The headlines are disturbing and tragic:
“Children face acute risk amid Malawi’s deadliest cholera outbreak” – The Guardian, March 10, 2023
“Malawi’s deadly cholera epidemic hits the poor hardest” – Reuters, March 9, 2023
And this from Rudolf Schwenk, UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Malawi Representative on March 7, 2023: “Malawi is really experiencing the deadliest cholera outbreak in recorded history – nothing less than that…It’s all over the country, affecting more than 50,000 people and over 1,500 deaths.
“Of these, 12,000 children have contracted cholera, and of these, unfortunately 197, almost 200 – have died.”
And, UNICEF points out: “Despite being a preventable disease, cholera is a ‘death sentence’ for thousands of vulnerable children” in Malawi where infections are common in areas with inadequate drinking water and sewage treatment.
At Bread and Water for Africa® we have been working for decades to prevent millions in sub-Saharan African countries from getting cholera (a bacteria which infects the small intestine and is spread mostly by unsafe water contaminated with human feces containing the bacteria) and other deadly waterborne illnesses and diseases through our clean water program.
In addition to Cameroon, Ethiopia, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Uganda and others over the years, in 2021 we formed a partnership with the Our AIM Foundation (OAF) to drill boreholes deep into the underground aquifer in Malawi and have completed 16 since then with the goal of completing 10 more this year.
In 2022, we expanded our partnership with OAF to support its mobile medical clinics to serve residents in more than 125 rural and extremely remote villages where the nearest health facility can be more than 50 miles, one way, with many unable to make the 100-mile round trip trek on makeshift gutted dirt roads, even if they had access to a vehicle to get them there.
Instead, as OAF has reported to us, its “clinic team monthly selects a village in dire need of the medical services we offer. Following a survey of the wellbeing of the villagers to learn what ailments are affecting them, we devise a plan on how we can best provide the medical services which will be of most benefit to them.”
The mobile clinics serve about 200 individuals at each outreach visit, where patients are commonly treated for malaria and chronic conditions such as hypertension or diabetes.
And today, with the cholera outbreak causing a crisis in the country, the need for healthcare services to treat those with cholera is even greater – and equally important, if not more so , teaching them how to prevent contracting cholera in the first place by providing them with educational proper hygiene and sanitation information.
The boreholes already constructed by Bread and Water for Africa® providing clean water to thousands has no doubt prevented countless cases and saved lives, and through our support of the mobile clinic operations we are helping to prevent even more from getting seriously ill, and likely even death.