Cyclone Freddy sparks cholera fears in Malawi

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  • About 183 000 people have been displaced by Cyclone Freddy.
  • Those affected are lacking water and basic sanitation.
  • By Friday 326 people were reportedly dead and 201 were missing.

The trail of destruction left behind by Cyclone Freddy could further worsen Malawi's cholera outbreak which is already the worst in decades.

There are increasing fears that cholera will hit people in camps and uncontrolled settlements. 

According to Save The Children, an estimated 183 000 people were displaced by the cyclone, most of them children.

They lack running water, sanitation facilities and open defecation in camps is fueling fears of waterborne diseases.

Save The Children and other aid agencies were already on the ground working on cholera cases but now more weight has been added to their already heavy load.  

They are dealing with injured victims from the cyclone's impacts, which caused landslides, flooding as well as falling trees and infrastructure.

Palal Areman from Save the Children's Emergency Health Unit in Blantyre said they were stretched to the limit.

READ | Cyclone Freddy toll surpasses 300 as Mozambique counts bodies

"With Cyclone Freddy hitting, the normal heath care routine is completely disrupted. Temporary tents put up to treat cholera patients have been destroyed, putting medical services out of reach for many," he said.

He added that cholera will remain a big challenge.

"I think in the long term with water disruption, the pipes broke and water contamination is highly likely, cholera cases will most certainly go up,” he said.

Malawi's Department of Disaster Management Affairs on Friday said at least 326 people were reported dead and 201 others missing.

Searching for people remains difficult because of heavy rains and blocked roads.

One male teenager interviewed by Save The Children said hunger was their most immediate concern.

"As I am speaking right now, we don't have food to eat, and we are living in fear because we don't really know what happens next and we feel we are no longer safe,” he said.

A 14-year-old girl told Save The Children that her education had been disrupted and she didn't know how her family would move on from their loss.

READ | Mango tree saves top Malawian musician and his neighbours from death in floods

"My school books have been soaked and damaged and I don't know how I will be able to continue learning once the schools open because I don't have any materials. 

"Our house survived the heavy rains and damaging winds as the tropical cyclones made landfall on Sunday 12th March, only to end up destroying it the following day. It will be very tough to rebuild our lives,” she said.

Aid agencies called for more funds to be channelled towards relief efforts in Malawi one of the world's poorest nations.

The News24 Africa Desk is supported by the Hanns Seidel Foundation. The stories produced through the Africa Desk and the opinions and statements that may be contained herein do not reflect those of the Hanns Seidel Foundation.

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