BLANTYRE—A Malawi health official has blamed 16 cholera deaths in the country’s commercial capital Blantyre on staff negligence.
“We had medical supplies but clinicians and nurses were leaving cases to Health Surveillance Assistants (HSAs) such that patients were left without fluid replacements for more than six hours and were dehydrated,” District Health Officer for Blantyre Dr Owen Malemya was quoted saying by Malawi News Agency (Mana).
“It’s unacceptable for a person to die of diarrhea or cholera. Cholera is manageable and there is no excuse for somebody’s death,” Malemya said.
Mana said Malemya told a postmortem meeting Tuesday there was poor case management of cholera patients and also that some staff had attitude problems as they refused to enter cholera camps.
“We had several cases of readmission of cholera patients who later died,” said Malemya who added that most of the patients died three to four days after admission.
The physician told staff cholera patients should survive when they reach a health centre.
With 18 deaths out of 402 reported cases, Blantyre City was among the worst districts hit by cholera, the meeting was told.
Coordinator for Integrated Disease Surveillance and Response for Blantyre, Alinafe Hauya, cited lack of safe water, poor sanitation and inadequate hygiene practices in the urban areas as causes of the outbreak.
“We discovered that most of the areas from which cholera patients came relied on shallow wells and had toilets along the stream,” Hauya was quoted saying.
Speaking at the same meeting, Member of Parliament for Blantyre Kabula, Felix Njawala, who is also chairs the Cholera Taskforce for Blantyre said the cholera outbreak could’’ve been prevented.
“Officials were relaxed because during the 2010/2011 season the district did not register any case of cholera. Preventive measures for the 2011/2012 season were not put in place and the outbreak hit the district when it was not ready,” he said.
It’s unclear whether any action will be taken against the staff accused of neglect.
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