More than 300 Health Facilities Destroyed By Cyclone Freddy in Madagascar, Malawi and Mozambique


Health clinic destroyed by cyclone Freddy, which made a double landing on the southern coast of Africa in the past month.

More than 300 health facilities have been destroyed or flooded in Madagascar, Malawi and Mozambique in the wake of Cyclone Freddy, WHO estimates.

That has left hundreds of communities without adequate access to health services even as the cyclone’s double whammy of devastation has raised public health risks including the increased spread of cholera, malaria, COVID-19, and as malnutrition, WHO African Region officials said at a press briefing on Thursday.  

In Mozambique alone, the number of cholera cases more than doubled over the past week from 1023 to 2374 new cases recorded as of 20 March.

Malawi, which has been battling its worst-ever cholera outbreak, fared somewhat better despite all odds.  It continued to record a decline in cases, with new infections dropping to a total of 1424 for the week ending 20 March as compared with 1956 the previous week. That decline came even as a second wave of Cyclone Freddy-linked flooding and infrastructure damage was still sweeping the country. 

The fierce Indian Ocean storm, dubbed the longest and most devastating to hit the Southern coast of Africa, made landfall on the continent’s southern coast for a second time in a month in mid-March, leaving more than 220 people dead so far.   

Dr Charles Mwansambo, Secretary of Health, Malawi

Speaking at the WHO African Region briefing, Dr Charles Mwansambo, Secretary of Health, Malawi, said that 14 districts had experienced floods and mudslides since the disaster began with torrential rains between the 11th and 13th of March.

“That’s almost half the country because Malawi has 28 districts. And due to that severity, our president declared a state of disaster in the 14 affected districts,” Mwansambo told journalists. 

According to Mwansambo, while there is an ongoing search for missing persons, more than 500,000 people have been internally displaced in the country, some of whom are being housed at 576 established camps. 

“We knew this cyclone was coming but we didn’t imagine that it would be of this magnitude,” he said.

Meanwhile, WHO African Regional Director Matshidiso Moeti noted that with a double landfall in less than a month, the impact of Cyclone Freddy is immense and deepfelt. 

“While we work to understand the full extent of the devastation, our priority is to ensure that affected communities and families receive health assistance for immediate needs as well as to limit the risks of water-borne diseases and other infections spreading,” she said.

Image Credits: NASA Worldview, WHO .

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