CATI initiative rescues Ndirande from cholera crisis
Curbing the spread of cholera
Ndirande, a community characterized by sprawling slums, congested dwellings, and lack of access to safe drinking water, has always been threatened with contagious and waterborne diseases like cholera.
As the nation grappled with the cholera pandemic earlier this year, townships like Ndirande, faced the terrifying prospect of being overwhelmed by the disease. Amid the palpable fear and uncertainty, an unexpected adversary emerged: misinformation and fear-mongering.
During the aftermath of Cyclone Freddy, which battered the region, a sense of scepticism began to spread among the residents of Ndirande. Concerns arose regarding the safety of piped water, as rumours spread that water sources might have been contaminated by dead bodies swept away during the floods. In response to these suspicions, the residents, turned to open sources for their water, unwittingly exacerbating the risk of catching infectious diseases.
Mtendere Banda, a dedicated health surveillance assistant who works in Ndirande, shed light on the situation. "UNICEF's role in enlightening our community cannot be overstated," she says, recounting the efforts UNICEF made to clarify the importance of using piped water over potentially contaminated alternatives.
Cholera, a relentless enemy, struck Ndirande in three distinct waves between June 2022 and April 2023. Despite multiple interventions, Cholera cases remained prevalent prompting UNICEF to introduce a game-changing strategy called Case Area Targeted Interventions (CATI). This approach was fuelled by the understanding that the risk of cholera transmission was exceptionally high among households with patients and their neighbours.
At the heart of CATI is a comprehensive package of water, sanitation, and hygiene activities, health surveillance, provision of health services and medical supplies like vaccines and antibiotic chemoprophylaxis.
Banda says UNICEF supplied them with supplies like buckets and chlorine, enabling them to address Cholera cases in the affected households.
"Our mandate was clear," Banda explained. "Identify each cholera patient and disinfect their homes and all the homes within a 30-house radius which reduced the cholera cases,” he says.
Stephano Brown, a resilient resident of Ndirande-Matope, shared his battle with cholera in April. He acknowledged the critical role that healthcare workers played in his survival story.
"Cholera should not be taken lightly," he emphasized, reflecting on his experience. He expressed deep gratitude for the assistance he received during his hospitalization at Ndirande Health Centre.
Armed with valuable insights on cholera prevention, Brown says he maintains proper hygiene and consumes freshly prepared, hot food—particularly street food. He has also started practising new hygiene measures around his home to safeguard his family, especially his two children, from potential contamination.
"We have made handwashing a ritual," Brown shared. "A readily accessible bucket of water and soap awaits every individual entering his household, to ensure cleanliness cleansed before taking meals and after using the restroom".
In a world marred by uncertainty and crisis, the successful efforts in Ndirande stand as a beacon of hope—a reminder that even in the face of formidable challenges, dedicated individuals and organizations can unite to transform a potential disaster into a tale of triumph and resilience.
The CATI initiative is being implemented by UNICEF and the Ministry of Health with support from USAID's Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance.