BLANTYRE – Malawi president Lazarus Chakwera is calling for collaborative efforts in the fight against coronavirus, which has so far infected nearly 6,000 Malawians and killed over 170 others. But commentators say the government should also tackle other diseases rather than focusing on COVID-19 alone.
In his weekly radio address Saturday, Chakwera said it is worrisome that local transmission has been on the rise despite various efforts to contain the virus.
The president said today marks 162 days since the first case of Covid-19 was confirmed within our borders. He said that presently, the transmission of the pandemic is more local than it is imported, so each of us needs to see ourselves and others as potential carriers of the virus.
However, Chakwera said there is need for cooperation in the fight against the pandemic.
He asked Malawians to continue to observe three rules that health experts have prescribed for keeping the virus from spreading: hand washing, observing distance, and wearing face coverings.
Chakwera hailed heath workers’ efforts in the fight against the spread of the pandemic.
So far, he said, the number of people tested has reached 48,000, of whom just over 10% have been found with the virus. He said of those confirmed to have the virus, over 65% have fully recovered while 31% are still recovering.
President Chakwera’s remarks came at times when the country is easing some of the measures that were put in place to contain the spread of the virus.
For example, Malawi opened schools in phases on September 7. This came after the opening of airports on September 1.
Meanwhile, plans are at an advanced stage to resume sports activities and other recreational activities in two weeks’ time.
Health Rights campaigner George Jobe supports calls for collaboration in the fight, against the disease especially in schools.
“There is the challenge though in our schools that the teacher-pupil ratio in our schools is high. And in such cases there is need for schools to have the shifting system, whereby some classes could be held in the morning and others in the afternoon in order to decongest classrooms,” he said.
However, social commentator Humphrey Mvula told VOA that it’s high time government starts to talk of other diseases which are also killing people in hospitals rather than concentrating on COVID-19 alone.
“We equally have other diseases that have killed us; and they are infectious; TB, cholera, whatever, we have lived with those diseased and we are living with them, if you go to major hospitals, go and look at the death rate, there are so many Malawians dying every day of other diseases other than COVID,” said Mvula.
In his address, President Chakwera said his administration has adequately armed the health sector to deal with all health matters affecting the country.
He said in the 2020/2021 national budget, his administration has allocated about $273 million to the health sector – more than double the allocation given to the health sector in the previous national budget.