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Malawi: Cholera Cases Soar Globally – Malawi, Haiti Deadliest Outbreaks, WHO Reports

The world enters 2024 with soaring cases of cholera globally, with over 667,000 cases and more than 4,000 deaths last year, UN agencies have reported.

Eastern and southern African nations are among the worst affected, accounting for about 75 per cent of the fatalities and a third of the cases, as of 15 January, according to UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

With the regions also suffering from lack of adequate clean water and sanitation, and poor case management, children are particularly vulnerable as the outbreaks spread rapidly.

“The cholera outbreak in the region is a significant concern to the health and well-being of children,” Etleva Kadilli, UNICEF Director for eastern and southern Africa, said on Monday.

“Investments in strengthening systems to address the root causes of cholera and other public health emergencies, particularly on enhancing access to clean water, improved sanitation and hygiene, social behaviour change and quality of case management, are imperative.”

She also highlighted the compounding impacts of climate change, as well as the multifaceted consequences for children.

“Learning loss is a major concern. It is imperative that the response not only be swift but also considers the long-term well-being of these young children. As the new school year is starting in many countries in the region, it is crucial for measures to be put in place in schools to protect children against infections,” she said.

‘Grade 3 Emergency’

Meanwhile, the UN World Health Organization (WHO) reported that preliminary data from Member States indicate that the number of cholera cases reported in 2023, as of 15 December, surpassed that of 2022.