Emergency Medical Teams from the World Health Organization have been sent to Malawi to aid in the country’s response to a cholera outbreak

Emergency Medical Teams from the World Health Organization have been sent to Malawi to aid in the country's response to a cholera outbreak

Following a recent request for assistance, the World Health Organization (WHO) activated its network of Emergency Medical Teams (EMTs) to aid the Malawian government in its response to the cholera outbreak. As part of a joint initiative between the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Kingdom’s Emergency Medical Team (UK-EMT; funded by the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office [FCDO]), and Save the Children, two emergency medical technicians have been sent to Malawi. In order to combat the current cholera epidemic, they will oversee care for patients at cholera treatment centres, stock up on necessary supplies, and educate their local counterparts. As of the first of February, these teams will be in Malawi for six weeks to aid in the surge response and help build the capacity of local health workers and responders. Samaritan’s Purse, a third international EMS team, is also mobilising and will arrive soon.

EMTs are teams of medical professionals who respond to disaster zones to aid victims there and provide direct clinical care to those in need. Medical professionals, nurses, experts in infection prevention and control, WASH (water, sanitation, and hygiene) specialists, logistics experts, and team coordinators make up the deployed EMT teams. Their goal is to improve the Ministry of Health’s ability to respond to cholera outbreaks in a way that prevents further deaths and stops the disease from spreading.

In districts across the country that have experienced an outbreak of cholera, the EMTs will collaborate with national health workers and other partners. They are sent out after careful consideration of the epidemiological situation as well as the specific requirements of each area and treatment facility. An EMT Coordinator has been sent from WHO to aid the Ministry of Health in setting up and overseeing coordination mechanisms for EMT surges. As of 31 January 2023, the cholera case fatality rate in Malawi was 3.24 percent, significantly higher than the expected rate of 1.

With the right resources

With the right resources

Cholera deaths can be prevented. The EMT’s clinical knowledge and experience are invaluable and will improve the quality of care provided to cholera patients. WHO Representative for Malawi Dr. Neema Rusibamayila Kimambo.

The local health officers’ understanding of general critical care will be bolstered thanks to the “mentorship and on-the-job trainings” provided by the EMTs.

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It gives us great pleasure to announce that we have arranged for the rapid deployment of the UK’s Emergency Medical Team to join local health workers in their efforts to combat the worsening cholera outbreak and reduce the number of preventable deaths. After their previous deployment to Malawi in late 2021 to aid in the Covid-19 response, we were able to witness firsthand how efficient they were. Furthermore, we are dedicated to maintaining our long-term partnership with the government of Malawi to strengthen the health system’s ability to prevent, detect, and respond to public health emergencies such as cyclones and infectious disease outbreaks. The Director of Development at the Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office, Olympia Wereko-Brobby, made this statement.

To aid in the fight against cholera, we at Save the Children International Emergency Health Unit have sent in our Specialized Care Team. Our team has been sent to Balaka to help with the Cholera Treatment Unit there, specifically in the areas of case management, triage, patient flow, infection prevention and control, water, sanitation, and hygiene, and supply chain. This is due to the large number of child and maternal cases that have recently been reported in the country. The current cholera response will be bolstered by this deployment. The severity and scope of the epidemic are deeply upsetting and cannot be tolerated. To put an end to this epidemic, we must all make greater efforts. Save the Children’s EMT Team leader Kate Jarman put it this way.

The healthcare system is clearly being tested by the cholera epidemic. According to Dr. Charles Mwansambo, the Ministry of Health’s Secretary for Health, “the additional support that EMT teams is bringing will help us to improve and provide quality of care that meets the minimum standards.”

The World Health Organization and its partners are coordinating with the Ministry of Health to increase the availability of safe drinking water and sanitation facilities, launch treatment centres, administer vaccinations, ship medical supplies, disseminate public health guidance, educate healthcare providers, and engage communities in efforts to curb the spread of the disease.

Daniel Harrison
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