As part of the continued support to the Malawi Government in the cholera outbreak response, the World Health Organization (WHO) has activated its Emergency Medical Teams (EMTs) network following the recent request for assistance from the government. Two EMTs have been deployed to Malawi under partnership of WHO, UK-EMT (supported by Foreign Commonwealth&Development Office (FCDO) and Save the Children. They will respond to the current cholera outbreak by managing patients in the cholera treatment centers, providing essential medication and supplies, and training local colleagues. These teams will be in Malawi for six weeks starting from first of February to support the surge response while helping to build the capacity of national health workers and surge responders in country. A third international Emergency Medical Team, Samaritan’s Purse, is also currently mobilizing and will arrive in the coming days.
EMTs are groups of health professionals that provide direct clinical care to people affected by emergencies and disasters and support local health systems. The deployed EMT teams comprise of medical doctors, nurses, infection prevention and control specialists, WASH (water, sanitation, and hygiene) and logistics experts, and coordinators. Their objective is to enhance the capacity of the Ministry of Health in the cholera outbreak response to reduce loss of life and halt the spread of cholera.
The EMTs will work with national health workers, and partners in cholera hotspot districts across the country. They are deployed according to an analysis of the epidemiological situation and an assessment of the needs of each targeted area and treatment center. WHO has also deployed an EMT Coordinator who is supporting the Ministry of Health to establish and manage the EMT surge coordination mechanisms. Presently, Malawi has a high cholera case fatality rate of 3.24 percentage (expected is <1 with over 1,133 deaths as of 31 January 2023.
“Cholera death is avoidable with proper tools and resources in place. The EMT is bringing crucial expertise in clinical care which will help to improve patient outcomes in cholera treatment centers.” Said Dr Neema Rusibamayila Kimambo, WHO Representative for Malawi.
“The EMTs will not only help to treat those in need, but also provide the mentorship and on-job trainings that will strengthen the knowledge of our local health officers in general critical care skills.”
“We are really pleased to be able to arrange the rapid deployment of the UK’s Emergency Medical Team to work side by side with local health workers as they respond to the worsening cholera outbreak and bring down the number of preventable deaths. We saw how effective they were when they last deployed to Malawi in late 2021 to support the Covid-19 response. And because we know that Malawi will continue to face shocks such as cyclones and outbreaks of infectious diseases, we are also committed to our ongoing partnership with the government of Malawi to improve the capacity of the health system to better prevent, detect and respond to public health emergencies.” said Foreign, Commonwealth&Development Office’s Development Director Olympia Wereko-Brobby.
“We, Save the Children International Emergency Health Unit, have deployed our Specialised Care Team to support the Cholera response. Specifically, our team has been deployed to Balaka where they will support case management, triaging, patient flow, IPC, WASH and supply chain at the Cholera Treatment Unit with a focus on the high number of paediatric and maternal cases currently in the country. This deployment builds on our existing cholera response efforts. The scale and impact of the outbreak is painful and unacceptable. We all need to redouble our efforts and stop the outbreak.” Said Kate Jarman, Save the Children EMT Team lead.
“The cholera outbreak presents a clear challenge to the country’s healthcare system. The additional support that EMT teams is bringing will help us to improve and provide quality of care that meet the minimum standards,” said Dr Charles Mwansambo, Secretary for Health in the Ministry of Health.
As cholera cases continue to rise, WHO and partners are working together with the Ministry of Health to improve access to clean water and sanitation, establish treatment centers, vaccinate, deliver supplies, distribute public health guidance, train health workers, and work with communities on prevention.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of WHO Regional Office for Africa.