Cyclone Freddy destroyed 300 health facilities in Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique: WHO
The World Health Organisation (WHO) says no fewer than 300 health facilities have been destroyed or flooded in the three Southern African countries hit by tropical cyclone Freddy.
WHO, in a statement on Thursday, stated that the devastation caused by the cyclone in Madagascar, Malawi and Mozambique had increased the spread of cholera, malaria, and malnutrition.
The cyclone’s destruction increased public health risks, including a surge in the spread of cholera, malaria, malnutrition, COVID-19 and other vaccine-treatable diseases.
WHO said Malawi was still in the midst of its “worst-ever” cholera outbreak, although cases were declining.
In Mozambique, cholera cases have more than doubled over the past week to almost 2,400.
“With a double landfall in less than a month, the impact of cyclone Freddy is immense and deeply felt. While we work to understand the full extent of the devastation, our priority is to ensure that affected communities and families receive health assistance for immediate needs as well as to limit the risks of water-borne diseases and other infections spreading,” said Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa.
Overall, Ms Moeti said flooding and torrential rains had affected more than 1.4 million people in the three countries.
“WHO and partners are providing support in the form of cholera treatment centres, medical supplies, and health worker training. WHO has provided 7.9 million dollars and sent over 60 experts to the affected countries to assist with the emergency response,” she added.
The WHO official explained that about 184 tons of important medical supplies had been shipped to support the cyclone and cholera emergency response.
“In Malawi, WHO has redistributed cholera response operation centres to hotspot districts to help disease control efforts. With the rise in climate-related health emergencies in Africa, it’s clear that more needs to be done to bolster preparedness for climatic hazards so that communities can better cope with the impacts of the devastating natural disasters,” Ms Moeti stressed.
The cholera outbreaks currently affect 14 African countries and are made worse by extreme climate events and conflicts that leave countries more vulnerable.
Many people have been forced to flee their homes to face uncertain living conditions.