The number of people diagnosed with cholera has increased to 30,621, which is the highest number of people suffering from cholera in the last 20 years.
The worst cholera epidemic in Malawi has killed more than 1,000 people even though the cases have reached 30,621, said the Minister of Health Khumbize Chiponda.
The number of people who died on Tuesday broke the record and surpassed the highest death toll of 968 people between 2001 and 2002, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
Mr. Chiponda has asked the people to take care of the bodies of people affected by cholera before the funeral ceremony.
“People who die of cholera can be bathed by their relatives who prepare for the funeral… the spread of cholera follows these celebrations,” the minister said on Wednesday.
He called on people to use proper disinfection methods with chlorine and plastic body bags.
Most of the deaths have occurred in the two major cities of Lilongwe and Blantyre where children have recently returned to class after schools were delayed in opening to combat the disease.
Cholera affects southern Africa during the rainy season from November to March, and usually kills about 100 people.
In November 2022, Malawi received more than 3 million doses of oral cholera vaccine from the United Nations to improve vaccination efforts but the number of cases continues to rise.
Health ministry spokesman Adrian Chikumbe told AFP that all levels had been used.
He added that “the fact that there is only one manufacturer of cholera vaccines in the world makes it difficult to find life-saving drugs”, which creates competition between countries that need help.
Cholera, which causes diarrhea and vomiting, is contracted from a bacterium that is usually spread through contaminated food or water.
George Jobe, director of the non-profit organization Malawi Health Equity Network, told AFP that myths and lies circulating on the internet are exacerbating an already existing problem.
“Most people don’t believe we have cholera,” he told AFP. In addition, “other religions do not allow them to do this [sick] members to go to the hospital”.
In September, the WHO warned that after years of decline, the world is witnessing an “alarming upheaval” of the cholera epidemic, with climate change exacerbating traditional causes such as poverty and conflict.
The disease affects between 1.3 million and 4 million people worldwide each year, killing 143,000 people.