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Anthrax outbreak likely cause of hippo deaths in Malawi

LILONGWE Malawi (Xinhua) -- The Department of National Parks and Wildlife in Malawi on Friday said preliminary test results show that anthrax likely caused the deaths of hippos at one of its national parks.

Late November the department told the media that 22 hippos had died in the Shire River in Liwonde National Park and that samples had been collected from the dead hippos and sent to both local and international labs to ascertain the cause of the deaths.

Brighton Kumchedwa, director of the department, disclosed that the number of dead hippos had reached 28 from 22 and warned people to take extra care, saying although anthrax mainly affects animals, the disease could be transmitted to humans by infected wild and domestic animals.

“Anthrax is a serious disease. As a preventive measure, we have also banned people from consuming bush meat in the southern region of the country as other animals may have also been affected,” said Kumchedwa.

Liwonde National Park, in southern Malawi, has a population of about 1,900 hippopotamuses and this is the first time hippos have died in large numbers due to infection.



Malawi probes massive deaths of hippos at national park

LILONGWE  Malawi (Xinhua) -- The Department of Parks and Wildlife in Malawi says it is investigating the cause of massive deaths of hippos at one of its national parks, Liwonde.

The investigation follows the deaths of 22 hippos in a month, a scenario described by authorities as strange in the history of the country.

Director of the Department of Parks and Wildlife, Brighton Kumchedwa, told a local media on Friday that samples have been taken and sent outside the country to establish the cause.

“We are working with the vet department officials and the African Parks who are managing the National Park to establish the cause as this is the first time for the country to witness this,” said Kumchedwa.

Country director for Africa Parks Patricio Ndadzera also said the development is strange as most of the times it is poaching that causes deaths of animals.

Ndadzera expressed hope that by January 2019, they will have obtained results and informed the nation of the causes.

Currently, Liwonde National Park, which is in southern Malawi, has a population of 1,900 hippopotamus, according to the Department of Parks and Wildlife.


Malawi to engage traditional healers, pharmacies in detecting TB cases

LILONGWE Malawi (Xinhua) -- Malawi will engage traditional healers, drug dispensaries and pharmacies to screen clients for signs of TB to increase detection of the disease, health authorities have disclosed.

The project will be implemented by Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) Malawi in two of the country’s districts of Lilongwe and Mangochi with funds of up to 400,000 U.S. dollars.

CHAI project officer, Yuweni Chipatala, told journalists Friday when he briefed authorities in the lakeshore district of Mangochi that the project would identify and engage up to 300 traditional healers, drug dispensaries and pharmacies in the targeted districts.

The identified structures would then be trained to improve TB screening and do referrals to recommended clinics for treatment.

“The two targeted districts contribute about 21 percent of the national population and they accounted for 28 percent of TB notifications recorded in 2017,” explained Chipatala.

TB remains a persistent challenge in Malawi, where less than 60 percent of all new cases are identified and treated while deaths from the disease is estimated at 9,000 each year.

In 2016, 29,000 new cases of TB were estimated but only 54 percent of the cases were identified and linked to treatment, according to the CHAI project officer.


Malawi to immunize nine-year-old girls against HPV

LILONGWE Malawi (Xinhua) -- The Malawi government will in January immunize all girls aged nine against human papillomavirus (HPV) to prevent them from cervical cancer.

The country’s chief of health services, Charles Mwansambo, disclosed this on Wednesday saying Malawi is currently leading in cervical cancer prevalence in the world.

He said the government has secured support from Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance to conduct the campaign.

The official assured all Malawians that basing on the previous trials, the immunization is safe as it proved ideal to immunize the girls with the vaccine before they engage themselves in sexual activities where they can get HPV.

Malawi medical journal of 2017 described cervical cancer as the most common cancer in women in Malawi. According to the journal, cervical cancer accounts for over 40 percent of female cancers and it is a major cause of mortality and morbidity.


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