Climate crisis and cholera link must be studied - Malawi
The president of Malawi has called for more studies into the link between cholera and climate change after the country was hit by record deaths.
President Lazarus Chakwera told the BBC he did not doubt the link but wanted to be led by more research.
About 1,000 people are reported to have died in the current outbreak.
Mr Chakwera said there had been an unprecedented level of water-borne diseases since devastating floods last year which affected much of southern Malawi:
Quote Message: We've never really had this type of outbreak in over 20 years, and even then, it wasn't at this scale.
We've never really had this type of outbreak in over 20 years, and even then, it wasn't at this scale.
Quote Message: But with all the flooding that took place last year, with water levels rising and with sanitation issues across the country that are dependent on pit latrines for example...
But with all the flooding that took place last year, with water levels rising and with sanitation issues across the country that are dependent on pit latrines for example...
Quote Message: And all of that being washed into streams and even where you have water pumps - because of those [water] levels, all of a sudden you saw outbreaks of water-borne diseases like cholera in a way that you've never seen before.
And all of that being washed into streams and even where you have water pumps - because of those [water] levels, all of a sudden you saw outbreaks of water-borne diseases like cholera in a way that you've never seen before.
Quote Message: So I would not doubt that all of this could be backed by more research."
So I would not doubt that all of this could be backed by more research."
More than 1,000 deaths in Malawi cholera outbreak
BBC Africa health reporter, Nairobi
recorded more than 1,000 cholera deaths since the outbreak started in March
This is the highest figure the country has ever recorded for a cholera
There are fears health officials are struggling to contain the
outbreak as they are running low on medical supplies including vaccines – most of
which were used up last week.
30,000 infections have been reported in Malawi.
Most cases and deaths have been
recorded in the capital, Lilongwe and Blantyre, where the opening of schools was delayed to control the spread of cholera.
cases are linked to the impact of climate change that caused extensive flooding last year and
destroyed the country's water and sanitation systems.
Health Minister Khumbize Chiponda has urged people to use safe water and observe basic
hygiene, but very few people have access to safe water and improved sanitation
Two weeks ago, the country launched an international appeal asking
for medical supplies to contain the outbreak.
The health ministry has also
asked the World Health Organization to assist them in getting 7.6 million doses of cholera
However, with only two manufacturers producing this vaccine and
a global cholera outbreak, it’s unlikely that they’ll get them any time soon.
Malawi schools reopen after deadly cholera outbreak
BBC Africa health reporter
Learning in primary and secondary
schools resumes on Tuesday in Malawi's two major cities following a cholera outbreak that killed hundreds of people.
Schools in the capital, Lilongwe, and the commercial hub, Blantyre, had remained closed for at least two weeks after the Christmas holidays.
The cholera outbreak began in March last year and has so far killed more than 750 people.
Infections are still high in Lilongwe and Blantyre.
Health Minister Khumbize Chiponda said schools now have access to safe water and
improved sanitation facilities, which will go a long way in reducing infections reported in schools.
The minister was optimistic that infections in schools would reduce due to
Malawi is among 31
countries globally hardest hit by cholera.
Last week, the government asked for international
assistance as it was running low on medical supplies.
The widespread cases of cholera in the
country are as a result of the aftermath of tropical storm Ana and cyclone Gombe
that caused extensive flooding last year and destroyed the country's water and
Pupils allowed back to school after Malawi cholera outbreak
authorities say students who were prevented from returning to school at the end
of the Christmas holidays due to fears of an escalating cholera outbreak can
Health Minister Khumbize Chiponda announced in Lilongwe that most schools are now prepared to manage
the cholera situation.
facing a devastating outbreak pf the water-borne disease which has so far killed more than 750
Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 and Cholera had ordered that schools in the capital, Lilongwe, and the southern commercial city of Blantyre should not open in
order to protect learners and students from contracting cholera.
drew criticism from education rights activists because it only targeted schools
in two cities while those in other areas, including some that had also recorded
high number of cholera cases, were allowed to open.
Mr Chiponda has now said that over the past two weeks the task force has been
monitoring the situation and is satisfied there is availability of water, handwashing facilities and clean toilets in all schools, hence the decision to order
Malawi police arrest two for banknote cake
have arrested two women in their mid-20s after they used kwacha bank notes
as decorations for a cake they had baked and posted it on social media.
spokesman said the pair had posted the image of the cake festooned with 70 500-kwacha notes - worth $35 (£28) on social
media as they advertised their cake-making business.
The accused have not commented on their arrest but police say they will be charged
with an offence of “damaging and unlawful use of currency”.
In the past,
Malawi’s central bank has said it incurs huge costs printing new bank
notes to replace worn out ones and blamed improper use of bank notes as one of
reasons the notes have to be regularly replaced.
The offence of
“damaging and unlawful use of currency” carries a large maximum fine.
Man linked to Malawi migrant mass grave given bail
The High Court in Malawi has released the stepson of former President Peter Mutharika on bail two months after he was arrested and charged with aggravated human trafficking and murder.
Tadikila Mafubza has been linked to the deaths of 30 men, believed to be Ethiopian migrants, whose bodies were found in a mass grave in October last year.
He denies the
The court on Wednesday ordered Mr Mafubza to pay two million kwacha ($2,000; £1,600), provide two blood related sureties each bonded at $5,000 in assets, and to surrender his passport and all travel documents to the police.
Mr Mafubza was
not present in court when the ruling was made.
He was also ordered not
to contact any witnesses related to the case and report to national police
headquarters every Tuesday fortnightly.
The discovered bodies were found in an unmarked grave in a
government forest in the northern district of Mzimba. A post-mortem found that they
had died of suffocation.
Police arrested Mr Mafubza because they allege his car was used to transport the 30 men. A man said to have been the driver was also detained.
Malawi is grappling with the problem of organised syndicates trafficking men, women and children to South Africa, the US and Europe.
Malawi’s anti-corruption chief bailed after arrest
Malawi's anti-corruption chief Martha Chizuma has been released on police bail following her arrest in relation to a leaked audio of her complaining about
lack of government support in the fight against corruption.
Ms Chizuma was charged with "making use of speech capable of prejudicing a person against a party to judicial proceedings", after she claimed in the leaked audio that a top state official was "corrupt and compromised".
Her lawyer said the Anti-Corruption
Bureau (ACB) boss was arrested on Tuesday just before 04:00 local time by heavily armed police who raided her home.
In parliament, Justice Minister
Titus Mvalo told lawmakers that the arrest was “the work of
those trying to frustrate the fight against corruption”.
Ms Chizuma is
highly regarded for her strong stance in the fight against corruption - which has led to the indictment of the vice-president, one cabinet minister and
the head of police service.
They all deny any wrongdoing.
The leaked audio started circulating on social media in April in which she was recorded speaking to a person not employed by Anti-Corruption Bureau on the fight against corruption.
Critics accused her of breaching the oath
of secrecy and called for her sacking, but President Lazarus Chakwera said he would reprimand her both
in private and public.
Three civil society
organisations have said that the "government
needs to desist from frustrating those fighting against corruption".
Last year, Malawi was ranked 110th out of 180 countries in Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index.
Malawi battles deadly cholera amid vaccine push
BBC News, southern Malawi
Nurse Brenda Jingini considers her 55-year-old patient a lucky man - lucky to be alive and recovering from an acute infection of cholera that is surging through communities in southern Malawi.
Too weak to walk or even talk, William Mponda's family had feared for the worst when he was admitted to Lisungwi community hospital.
For three days he had been complaining at home of severe body pains, was vomiting and had diarrhoea.
"Believe me, he is much better now. In much better condition that when he was brought in. We had to give him emergency care," Ms Jingini told the BBC.
After a week in hospital he was still weak. As Ms Jingini tried to fit a drip to his arm, he struggled to lift his head. But he dropped back to the metal bed, gasping and sweating in the hot morning sun.
Part of this local hospital has been converted into a makeshift treatment unit for patients suffering from the highly infectious disease.
Transmitted through unclean water, it can affect children and adults, causing severe diarrhoea, and can kill within hours if left untreated.
"When we had just opened the special tent, we had few patients but now the cases are rising. We are worried the situation could get worse," Ms Jingini said.
The cholera outbreak begun in March in the south of the country after Tropical Storm Ana and Cyclone Gombe caused floods and massive displacements.
The infection has now spread to all of Malawi's 28 districts. Hospitals and clinics, especially in rural areas, are overwhelmed.
Over the last nine months, more than 250 people have died and more than 8,000 others have been infected.
The World Health Organization (WHO) says it is Malawi's largest cholera epidemic in a decade. There is concern the coming rainy season could worsen the situation.
At least 12 other countries on the continent are dealing with rising cholera cases - including Kenya, Nigeria, Niger, Mozambique, Somalia, and South Sudan. Experts link such outbreaks to the effects of climate change effects, like droughts and floods.
In May, the health ministry began a nationwide vaccination campaign. But the uptake has been slow with more than 1.5 million people out of a total population of 18 million having been vaccinated.
Rhoda Green did get vaccinated and though she did get cholera, recovered after a day in hospital.
"Those people not vaccinated get very sick while those that have been vaccinated don't get very sick," she told the BBC.
"On sanitation we need to take good care of ourselves - like health workers stopped us from drinking water from rivers. We use water from bore holes or tap water from here at the health centre."
Mr Mponda has also now been vaccinated to stop any further infections - and staff at Lisungwi hospital feel he will make a full recovery.
Malawi men launch anti-violence campaign
Grace Nyenyezi Khombe
A campaign group in Malawi has launched a series of events to encourage men to be involved in ending violence against women and children.
Men for Gender Equality Now (Megen), which has 50,000 members, has been holding marches in eight districts across the country as part of the UN's 16 Days of Activism.
The group's national coordinator Marcel Chisi told the BBC that the aim is to challenge cultural stereotypes of men's role in society.
“The idea is to challenge culturally constructed men privileges where men are considered superiors," he said.
Some 20,000 men have been trained as peer educators, each urged to reach between 15 to 20 men in their homes.
“Evidence is enormous that our young men are not
properly groomed when entering into marriage as the case with young ladies who
have several platforms such bridal showers, kitchen top-ups and wardrobe
top-ups where they share family practice," Mr Chisi said.
Malawi begins first large-scale malaria vaccination
Grace Nyenyezi Khombe
Malawi has begun a large-scale infant vaccination campaign against malaria which is the world's first-ever campaign of its kind, World Health Organization (WHO) country representative Dr Neema Kimambo has said.
The health authorities are using the only vaccine against the disease to be recommended by the WHO.
In the most recent phase of testing, since 2019, the WHO has supported the vaccination of
360,000 children per year across the three countries.
Early trials showed that more than 30% of the 5-to-17-month-olds who
received it were protected. This low level of efficacy has meant that some have questioned whether it is worth the cost.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which backs vaccine development, is not directly supporting the roll out as it feels that other tools to fight malaria as well as other vaccines being tested may be a better use of funds, the development news website Devex has reported.
RTS,S, developed by pharmaceutical company GSK, has been more than three
decades in the making.
While the vaccine has a relatively low level of
effectiveness, it has raised hopes of saving
some of the more than 400,000 people who die annually from the mosquito-borne
disease, most of them children in Africa.
In 2020, more than four million people in Malawi caught malaria and out
of those at least 2,500, most under the age of five, were confirmed to have died from the illness.
The country’s national
malaria control programme manager Dr Michael Kayange told the BBC's Focus on Africa programme that the vaccine should
now prevent some of these deaths.
“We’re quite aware of its low efficacy... [but] in malaria control there is no
single intervention that does it all. We’re not saying that the malaria
vaccine has come to eliminate malaria but it’s one tool towards
Other measures include the distribution treated mosquito bed nets.
The vaccine will be
administered through the regular immunisation programme which reaches all corners
of the country.
Dr Kayange said this will ensure that all children under five, even in the remotest parts of the country, will be covered.
The roll out began in Malawi's central
region in the district of Mchinji. Eleven of the country's 28 districts will be covered in the first part of the roll out and the authorities expect to vaccinate 330,000 children.
The vaccine needs
to be given four times - once a month for three months and then a fourth dose
18 months later.
Malawi's ex-president visits stepson in prison
Grace Nyenyezi Khombe
Malawi’s former President Peter Mutharika has for
the first time visited his stepson Tadikira Mafubza in prison in the
Mr Mafubza was arrested last Wednesday
in connection with October’s discovery of a mass grave in the north of the
country containing 30 bodies suspected to be Ethiopian immigrants. He has
been charged with human trafficking and murder.
Mr Mafubza has not commented on the charges.
Mr Mutharika did not grant
any interviews after the visit to the prison.
However in a statement released on 26 November he described the arrest as part of a political
witch-hunt against his family and supporters of his Democratic Progressive
Several members of his former administration, including ministers and his bodyguard, are also in prison facing corruption-related charges.
Mr Mutharika became president in 2014 and stepped down in 2020 after he
lost an election to current President Lazarus Chakwera.
Police spokesperson Peter Kalaya confirmed to the BBC that Mr Mafubza's trial will take place in
Mzuzu, nearer to the site of the alleged crime. But a date for the trial has
not been set.
In October, police found 30 bodies, including 25 in one grave, in a forest in the northern district of Mzimba.
The bodies were exhumed and autopsies have been carried out but the authorities
have not yet disclosed the cause of death.
Ex-president's step son arrested over Malawi mass grave
Getty ImagesCopyright: Getty Images
Police in Malawi have arrested the step son of former president Peter Mutharika as part of an investigation into the discovery of an unmarked mass grave in the northern Mzimba district last month.
Malawi's authorities said the 30 bodies retrieved were likely of Ethiopian immigrants.
Police have said their investigations led to the arrest of Tadikira Mafubza as well as impounding a vehicle they suspect was used in transporting the dead men.
A pathologist, who is part of the team conducting autopsy on the bodies, said partial results have been presented to the Malawi police and that a full report will be submitted at the end of month.
Malawi is grappling with the problem of human trafficking in which organised syndicates traffic men, women and children from East African countries including Ethiopia and Somalia. From Malawi they are further trafficked to South Africa, Europe and the United States.
Syndicates are thought to involve influential Malawians.
In 2020, the Malawi High Court sentenced former Home Affairs Minister Uladi Mussa and an immigration officer to five years imprisonment for helping non-Malawians obtain Malawi passports.
Mr Tadikira has not made any public comments, but the former governing Democratic Progressive Party have described the arrest as part of a political witchhunt against Mr Mutharika's family and his supporters.
The musician with albinism who caught Madonna's attention
BBC World Service
World Questions, Malawi
Denis O'HareCopyright: Denis O'Hare
Malawian Lazarus Chigwandali has faced many hardships in life because he was born with albinism but his passion for music brought him international fame and Madonna’s attention.
Born into a family of farmers in Dedza, central Malawi, Lazurus's parents had five children and his younger brother was also born with albinism. The condition affects the production of the pigment that gives skin, hair and eyes their colour and also means that skin burns very easily.
“Our parents tied us on their backs when they worked in the fields. After a day in the sun, our whole bodies were full of blisters," he told the BBC.
"We couldn’t afford sun cream, so our parents took the decision to literally lock me and my brother in the house to protect us from the sun."
When Lazarus and his brother did go out, the other children threw stones at them, thinking they would catch albinism. Because of this deep-rooted discrimination, Lazarus’s brother Peter knew they would never be able to get work like other people in the village and he suggested they forge a path in music together.
They had no instruments, so they made their own and started to get noticed performing in the local village. Sadly, Peter developed skin cancer and died when he was 12. Lazarus was devastated, but decided to play on alone.
Many people in Malawi and other East African countries wrongly believe that the body parts of people with albinism can bring wealth or good luck. People with albinism are frequently abducted, murdered or mutilated to supply this grisly trade. It’s something that Lazarus has witnessed first-hand.
“One time when I was performing outside a mall, a woman came past driving a nice car. She said her husband would pay me to do an album of 10 songs and he’d pay 1m kwacha ($973; £825) for each song.”
Lazarus got in the car to meet her husband and whilst waiting in the car, a maid from the house came out and told him she had overheard the couple making plans to sell him in neighbouring Tanzania. She told him his life was in danger if he didn’t get out, so he ran.
Lazarus’s love for music finally paid off when a passing NGO worker videoed him busking and posted it online. It was shared around the world and seen by a UK-based record producer who then recorded an album with Lazarus, bringing him international attention.
He went on to perform for Madonna and at Malawi’s international Lake of Stars music festival.
“Meeting Madonna and watching her perform was an eye opener in many ways, but perhaps the biggest thing for me is just sleeping in my own house that has iron sheets above my head. That has brought me such a deep joy, it’s unimaginable.”