The Ministry of Health has convened a National After-Action Review AAR meeting to reflect on the response to the recent Cholera outbreak. The aim of the review is to share lessons, challenges, and document best practices to improve public health emergency response.
Speaking at the opening, WHO Country Representative Dr Neema Rusibamayila Kimambo stated that no country in the world has had a perfect response to a public health emergency. She cites that “Malawi has had it worse, without time to recover between the Covid-19 crisis, the series of climate related disasters and the recent Cholera outbreak hence the need to adjust and strengthen future response”.
She alluded that the process enables countries to identify gaps and develop standardized best practices for outbreak management cutting across all pillars of outbreak management. Risk communication and community management, surveillance, case management, supplies, operations, and logistics as well as the overall health management.
In his remarks, Co-Chairperson of the Presidential Taskforce on Covid19 and Cholera Dr Wilfred Chalamira Nkhoma said despite Malawi’s noble achievement of controlling the Cholera outbreak in 26 of 29 districts, a lot needs to be done. He said it is concerning that after declaring Cholera as a non-emergency, the country continues to register sporadic cases which have been noted in 6 districts so far. He says Malawi is nearing the rainy season, a time waterborne diseases like cholera are at strife. “The timing of this AAR could not have come at a better time. The Action plan to emerge from this exercise is key in informing Malawi’s immediate actions”.
Director of Water Supply Services in the Ministry of Sanitation says the burden of public health emergencies continue to overstrain the capacity of response in resources and partner support. The recent cholera outbreak should give Malawi reason to holistically collaborate on interventions that start with Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) as prevention. He states that this AAR is a stepping-stone for a multisectoral approach towards elimination of Cholera by 2030.
Commenting on the issue Dr Limbani Mapata a member of the Emergency Medical Team from Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital says the discourse dominating the After-Action Review from all districts exposes the need to have a centrally placed contingency fund for any disease outbreak that can significantly support government to address the outbreak whilst lobbying for support from developing partners.
At the end of this AAR process, a report will be produced to ensure all lessons are captured and utilized to improve emergency preparedness and response capacities. This process is in alignment with the Global Roadmap targeting 90 percent reduction in Cholera deaths and elimination of cholera by 2030.
The recent cholera outbreak has been dubbed the worst in Malawi’s history with 59,013 cases reported and 1,768 deaths recorded representing 3% case fatality rate against an acceptable rate of less than 1% as of 1 October 2023.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of World Health Organization (WHO) – Malawi.