Malawi: Govt Blamed On Decision Not to Open Some Schools Over Cholera

Government’s decision for Blantyre and Lilongwe primary and secondary schools not to open the second term due to cholera outbreak has drawn public anger.

Minister of Health and Khumbize Kandodo-Chiponda and her fellow Presidential Taskforce on Coronavirus and Cholera co-chairperson Dr Wilfred Chalamira Nkhoma said in a statement that schools from the two cities would not open as scheduled as a measure to contain the outbreak.

“The Presidential Taskforce on Coronavirus and Cholera would like to inform the general public that due to the recent and continuing increase in the number of cholera cases and deaths in the cities of Blantyre and Lilongwe, opening next school term for primary and secondary schools in the two cities will start on 3rd January 2023 as earlier advised, but will be delayed for no less than two weeks, and until further advice.

“For all other learners in all health districts, the respective authorities should enhance compliance with recommended cholera control measures, including cholera vaccination for those that have not yet been vaccinated.”

The Taskforce has since said the Ministries of Health, Education and Water and Sanitation to intensify initiatives to scale up coverage with safe water adequate food hygiene, sanitation and cholera vaccination in hot spot areas.

“The Taskforce will continue to monitor the trends of cases and deaths in the two cities and advise the forward. The Taskforce regrets any inconveniences caused by this late advice taken solely in the interest of safeguarding learners.”

Reacting to this, Edukans country director Limbani Nsapato a social commentator, said posted on Facebook the decision has caused a lot of inconveniences to the learners, parents and guardians.

“Yes, let’s save lives, but decision-making should be timely and should be coordinated across the ministries. From the statements, it’s clear there wasn’t good coordination and foresight on the reopening. Otherwise, the decision inconveniences parents, children and school owners at a time the economy is tight. Looking ahead government (MOE) needs,” he said.

A social commentator, who spoke on conditions of anonymity also said the government should have treated the issue cautiously.

“We just dispatched our children to boarding schools. They have left in a bus now. Somebody in her wisdom decides to suspend the opening of schools in Lilongwe and Blantyre this morning [Monday]. What weeds are we smoking? You means you could not make a decision yesterday? The Taskforce on [Coronavirus and Cholera] you are a disgrace,” he said.

Meanwhile the Ministry of Education has defended the decision, saying they get such advice from Ministry of Health.

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