The Mozambique’s Minister of Health, Armindo Tiago, has warned that despite the improvement in the epidemiological situation of cholera, which has been recorded in recent weeks in the country, it is not yet time to lower our guard, as there are still important transmissions in several regions of the country.
As an example, Tiago says the weekly number of cases has reduced from 5,106 cases in epidemiological week 12, to 870 in the last epidemiological week (week 17), as a result of several combined actions at the level of the line ministry.
“However, we still need to be vigilant because there are still cases of infection in the country”, he stressed.
The health minister was speaking at the opening of the meeting of the Steering Committee of the Global Task Force on Cholera Control, which has been held in the Mozambican capital since Tuesday.
According to Tiago, cholera in some regions of Mozambique is endemic, with outbreaks occurring cyclically in localized geographic areas. However, this geographically localized pattern of the disease has been changing in recent months, and since September 2022, the country has been experiencing a major epidemic that has already spread to 10 of the 11 provinces.
Figures presented by him indicate that in this same period the country registered a cumulative of around 29,000 cases and 127 deaths, with a lethality rate of 0.4 percent, and that this is the biggest epidemic of the disease in the last 20 years in Mozambique.
The minister said that the negative impact of extreme climate events, which degrade the environmental sanitation and affect access to drinking water, associated to the high mobility of people, as well as socio-cultural aspects, are factors that have contributed to the resurgence of the disease in the country.
In response to the current cholera epidemic, the Ministry of Health, in collaboration with its partners, has been implementing various interventions, notably strengthening epidemiological surveillance; expanding laboratory testing capacity to all provincial public health laboratories; and implementing a differentiated approach for the correct and rapid management of cases.
Other actions include the mobilization and education of communities to adopt preventive measures; and the mobilization of vaccines for the implementation of reactive vaccination campaigns. According to Armindo Tiago, up to yesterday, a total of 2,488,551 people were vaccinated in Niassa, Tete, Zambézia, Manica, Sofala and Gaza provinces.
“The impact of these combined actions is reflected in the improvement of the epidemiological situation of cholera in recent weeks”, he said.
On the other hand, the minister said that Mozambique’s experience shows that vaccination, in combination with other social prevention measures, has a positive impact on the control of the epidemic.
“Therefore, we would like to join voices calling for greater availability and access to the Cholera vaccine at a global level. In this regard, I take this opportunity to encourage the members of the Steering Committee of the Global Task Force on Cholera Control to continue advocacy for greater availability and access to cholera vaccines,” he urged. At the four-day meeting, Mozambique will learn and share experiences with other countries on the adoption of an evidence-based response; the rapid implementation of an incident management system, with the appointment of a national incident manager for operational coordination of the response; and the rapid public declaration of cholera outbreaks by provincial and district health authorities, among others.