In an effort to combat and prevent the current outbreak of plague in Madagascar, the World Health Organisation (WHO),last week delivered nearly 1.2 million doses of antibiotics and released US$1.5 million dollars in emergency funds.
“Plague is curable if detected in time. Our teams are working to ensure that everyone at risk has access to protection and treatment. The faster we move, the more lives we save,” said Dr. Charlotte Ndiaye, WHO Representative in Madagascar.
The different types of drugs will be used for both curative and prophylactic care. They are enough to treat up to 5000 patients and protect up to 100 000 people who may be exposed to the disease.
The medicines are being distributed to health facilities and mobile health clinics across the country with the support of the Ministry of Health and partners.
WHO is also filling critical shortages in disinfection materials and personal protective equipment for health professionals and safe burials.
WHO and the Ministry of Health are also training local health workers on how to identify and care for patients, and how to trace people who have had close contact with symptomatic patients so that they may be given protective treatment.
Most of the 231 infections and 33 deaths that the Ministry of Health has reported since August are associated with pneumonic plague – a more dangerous form of the disease that affects the lungs and is transmitted through coughing at close range.
Both bubonic and pneumonic plague can be cured using common antibiotics if delivered early. Antibiotics can also help prevent infection among people who have been exposed to plague.
The WHO is currently appealing for US$5.5 million to effectively respond to the outbreak and save lives.