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Malawi Cholera Outbreak Claims Over 1000 Lives

Health Minister Khumbize Chiponda has revealed that despite hospitalization numbers reaching 30, 621, Malawi’s deadliest cholera outbreak on record has killed over 1,000 people.

According to the World Health Organization, the death toll on Tuesday eclipsed the biggest documented outbreak, which killed 968 people between 2001 and 2002. (WHO).

Chiponda urged people to exercise extreme caution when handling the bodies of cholera victims before funerals.

“People who are dying from cholera may be washed by family members who then prepare funeral feasts… outbreaks of cholera commonly follow these feasts,” the minister said on Wednesday.

She urged people to use proper disinfection methods such as chlorine and plastic body bags.

The majority of the deaths happened in the two main cities of Lilongwe and Blantyre, where students had recently returned to school after schools were closed to try to contain the spread.

Cholera strikes the southern African country on a regular basis during the rainy season, from November to March, with deaths often hovering around 100.

However, pollution levels were unusually high during and after the holiday season in 2022.

Malawi got over three million doses of oral cholera vaccine from the UN in November 2022 to boost its immunization program, but case numbers continue to grow.

Adrian Chikumbe, a spokesman for the health ministry, told AFP that all dosages had been utilized.

He went on to say that “the fact that there is only one cholera vaccine manufacturer worldwide makes acquiring the life-saving medicine tough,” fostering rivalry between countries in need.

Cholera, which causes diarrhoea and vomiting, is caused by a bacterium that is usually spread by contaminated food or water.

According to George Jobe, director of the organization Malawi Health Equity Network, falsehoods and disinformation flowing online are exacerbating an already terrible situation.

“Most people don’t believe we have cholera,” he told AFP. Additionally, “some religions do not permit their [sick] members to go to the hospital”.

(Al Jazeera)

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We Detected Over 8000 Tuberculosis Cases In 2022, Says Anambra Government

The Anambra government has revealed that  detected more than 8,000 tuberculosis (TB) cases in the state in 2022.

At an address  on Friday to mark the 2023 World Tuberculosis Day, Afam Obidike, the state commissioner of health, said there’s a need to intensify efforts to reduce tuberculosis prevalence in Nigeria.

The World TB Day is commemorated on March 24.

“This is why Chukwuma Soludo’s administration has remained focused in making sure that TB programme is given all the necessary attention to end the scourge in our time,” he said.

“For the past one year, TB programme has detected more than 8,000 TB cases against the targeted number of more than 13,000 cases in the state.

“That is about 80 percent detection, which made the state win several national awards as the best TB programme in the south-east in terms of TB cases notification and best childhood TB notification in Nigeria in 2023.

“These 8,000 cases are currently being treated at the 800 health facilities that offer TB treatment in the state.”

The commissioner called on anyone who notices symptoms of tuberculosis to visit the nearest government hospital for early detection and treatment.

“TB is treatable and curable if detected early,” he said.

“It may lead to death, if not detected and treated early and this is why we want to equip our people with the right knowledge to avoid casualties from TB cases.

“Persistent or chronic cough of more than two weeks which may come with blood-containing mucus, fever, drenching night sweats and weight loss are some of the major symptoms of TB.”

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UNICEF Says 78m Children Risk Water Crisis In Nigeria

The United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF, says 78 million children in Nigeria are at the risk of three water-related threats.

UNICEF listed the threats to include inadequate water, sanitation, and hygiene, WASH; related diseases; and climate hazards.

This is contained in statement signed by UNICEF Nigeria Chief of WASH, Dr Jane Bevan, on Monday.

According to the statement, one-third of children do not have access to at least basic water at home, and two-thirds do not have basic sanitation services.

“Hand hygiene is also limited, with three-quarters of children unable to wash their hands due to lack of water and soap at home.

“As a result, Nigeria is one of the 10 countries that carry the heaviest burden of child deaths from diseases caused by inadequate WASH, such as diarrhoeal diseases, “Bevan said.

She called for an investment in climate-resilient water, sanitation, and hygiene services.

According to her, such move is not only a matter of protecting children’s health today, but also ensuring a sustainable future for generations to come.

“I believe we need to rapidly scale-up investment in the sector, including from global climate financing, strengthen climate resilience in the WASH sector and communities.

“Also, increase effective and accountable systems, coordination, and capacities to provide water and sanitation services, and implement the UN-Water SDG6 Global Acceleration Framework,“ she said.

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NCDC Confirms 389 Diphtheria Cases In 6 States

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has disclosed that 389 cases of diphtheria have been confirmed in six states.

Diphtheria is a bacterial infection caused by the corynebacterium species that affect the nose, throat, and sometimes, skin of an individual, showing symptoms such as fever, runny nose, sore throat, cough, red eyes, neck swelling, and difficulty in breathing.

The NCDC, in its latest diphtheria situation report, said as of March 2023, a total of 1,064 suspected cases were reported from 21 states.

The agency said Kano (843), Yobe (86), Katsina (46), Lagos (22), Sokoto (14) and Zamfara (13) accounted for 96.2 percent of suspected cases.

“Of the 1,064 suspected cases reported, 389 (36.6%) were confirmed (45 were lab confirmed, 343 clinically compatible and 1 was epidemiologically linked), 322 (30.3%) were discarded, 201 (18.9%) are pending classification & 152 (14.3%) are unknown,” the report reads.

“The confirmed cases were distributed across 24 LGAs in six (6) States.

“Majority (305 [78.4%]) of the confirmed cases occurred among children aged 2 – 14 years.

“A total of 62 deaths were recorded among all confirmed cases (case fatality ratio (CFR): 15.9%).“

The NCDC said only 60 of the 389 confirmed cases were fully vaccinated with a diphtheria toxin-containing vaccine.

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