When the tropical storm Ana hit the south of Malawi in January last year, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) went to the Nsanje district to respond to the emergency. "Following the floods and considering the very poor water and sanitation conditions, we immediately knew that there was a risk of cholera to spread,” explains Marion Pechayre, MSF's head of mission in Malawi.
Since March 3, 2022, more than 33,600 confirmed cases of the waterborne disease have been reported, and more than 1,093 people have died as a result. While access to water, sanitation, and hygiene remain key factors in sustainably preventing the spread of the disease, this crisis also underscores the importance of vaccine access in countries where cholera is endemic, such as Malawi, to prevent and limit outbreaks. There has not been a massive vaccination campaign against cholera in Malawi in the last five years, and the vaccine only offers immunity for a few years, leaving most people vulnerable to infection.