The Fight Against Cholera in Malawi: Music To Our Ears

by Amref Health Africa

Malawi was worst hit by the Cholera outbreak in the 2022 to 2023 period, which saw the country record 58,982 cases and 1,768 deaths countrywide. Amref Health Africa in Malawi, in collaboration with Africa CDC with funding from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, is supporting the Malawi Ministry of Health in implementing a Cholera response project to prevent the recurrence of the outbreak and promoting healthy living behaviours among communities. The project is being implemented in the border districts of Nsanje, Phalombe, Mulanje, Karonga, Dedza, Mchinji and high burden districts of Lilongwe and Blantyre. As part of activity implementation, in April 2024, Amref successfully conducted a two-day orientation meeting for 411 community gatekeepers and artists in all the targeted districts to drill them on how they can use their influence as well as their skills to disseminate Cholera information to effectively engage communities and support the government in its mission to reduce cholera-related mortality through health promotion and health systems strengthening.

The gatekeepers are considered as custodians of people in the communities. Amref believed that by leveraging on them, they would have high influence to effectively disseminate Cholera messages to their subjects if well equipped with information.
 Part of community artists being oriented in Karonga District-Malawi

This has been vindicated by the great outcome of the orientation meetings which has seen gatekeepers equipped with Cholera information and are now charged up and able to effectively engage their subjects and share Cholera information with their communities.

On the other hand, artists have different skills and practical experience in composing songs, dramas, and poems. The orientation has greatly assisted them in incorporating Cholera messages effectively in their daily performances. These artists have gone flat out in their communities and rural health facilities, disseminating Cholera information. We feature one of the artists who was privileged to attend the Cholera orientation meeting, Sir Kamala Chibombo.

He uses his guitar to synchronise his voice for advocacy in Cholera prevention. Hailing from Dedza district in Malawi, about 89 kilometres from the capital city Lilongwe, a district that borders Malawi and Mozambique, which is potentially a high risk for entry and departure of public health emergencies like Cholera also known as severe diarrhoea in most parts of Mozambique. Realising the challenges faced by his community in dealing with public health emergencies and the influence his voice can have to the community, he has taken on the absolute initiative of utilising his musical talent for cholera prevention. He says he “hopes his music will inspire society to take outbreak prevention very seriously. “One of the biggest challenges is people’s reluctance to follow the advice share. However, as musicians, we have a large following who listen to our music. As such, we must ensure that people practice what we tell them.” Kamala states.

Kamala paying attention during the Cholera orientation training on 24th April 2024

He explains how fulfilling the training was for him and how he will use the knowledge acquired to further disseminate to his community in a more appealing way that will influence behavioural change and communication.

“I have learned a lot of things about cholera and its dangers. I now understand my role in raising awareness about cholera. I will use my talent to disseminate important messages about cholera and COVID-19, ensuring people are informed about the dangers of these public health emergencies and how to prevent them. These messages will be conveyed through my music.” Kamala states

He further mentions that he has a task to reach as many places as possible to ensure widespread dissemination of information about cholera.

Kamala performing a song on Cholera prevention with his colleagues in front of the community and artists during the Cholera orientation training on 25th April 2024

Indeed, not all heroes wear caps. Some come with a guitar and a golden voice—a golden voice that speaks and advances health equity! A hero like Kamala Chibombo needs his spotlight.

The Cholera Response project has reached over 30,000 people with cholera prevention messages and 240 community gatekeepers and artists representatives.

Listen to Kamala’s song on Cholera prevention:

Listen to one of the beneficiaries’ testimony on cholera interventions in the community


  • Southern Region Team led by Janekellen Mbae – Regional Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning Specialist.
  • Malawi Cholera Response Team led by Young Samanyika – Project Manager.
  • Lusayo Banda – Communications Manager.
  • Chisha Chola Communications Officer – Malawi & Zambia

You may also like

Leave a Comment

* By using this form you agree with the storage and handling of your data by this website.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More