Zomba — The Malawi Red Cross Society has embarked on interpersonal communication for emergency cholera outbreak preparedness and response to communities along the lakeshore areas in the country.
The idea behind the one-month project which is targeting eight districts is to have communities knowledgeable about health, water, sanitation and hygiene to prevent cholera outbreak as the rainy season approaches.
In an interview with the Malawi News Agency on Saturday when he visited Kachulu area along Lake Chirwa in Zomba district where the project is also implemented, Red Cross Community Humanitarian Diplomacy Manager, Felix Washon said the project is expected to increase awareness and knowledge and improve health seeking practices on cholera prevention and response among vulnerable population.
"We want people to know much about cholera so that they can prevent, treat and control it at community, household and individual levels," said Washon.
He said his organization is aware that during 2015/2016 cholera outbreak which killed many people in the district, it started especially from areas around Lake Chirwa basin.
'We have so far trained 100 volunteers from Zomba district who are currently collecting data door to door on WASH, hand washing facilities and cholera outbreak.
"After this exercise, they will be sensitizing fishing communities, fishermen and cholera outbreak prone communities on cholera prevention measures," he explained.
Washoni added that for preparedness, Malawi Red Cross has established cholera treatment centres which would be used to handle people affected by the outbreak.
A fishermen representative for Kachulu Beach, Samson Chiwanda described cholera as a big problem affecting many people as it spreads rapidly in the area during the rainy season.
He mentioned lack of hygiene among lake users and absence of an outlet for the lake as the main reasons which cause further spread of cholera in the area.
"Red Cross facilitated formation of committees which sensitize people on preventive measures for the disease," said Chiwanda.
Chiwanda said he is very optimistic that the situation in the area would change because of the relationship that is there between Red Cross volunteers and Health Surveillance Assistants in hygiene promotion to prevent cholera.
The project is expected to reach over 500, 000 people in the lake shore districts of Mangochi, Salima, Nkhotakota, Nkhatabay, Zomba, Machinga, Phalombe and Karonga.