By Chisomo Phiri
Ministry of Health in collaboration with partners including World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF on Tuesday September 12, 2023 launched the second phase round of this year’s national Polio Vaccination Campaign.
In his remarks, Principal Secretary for Administration in the Ministry of Health Bestone Chisamile said over nine million children under the age of 15 have been targeted for the campaign.
He said Polio remains a global health issue and Malawi as a country needs to take a bold step in eradicating the disease.
He then described the launch as timely.
“The campaign will be done door to door so that we reach out to as many children as possible.
“Let me urge authorities such as religious leaders to take a leading role in making sure that the campaign becomes a success,” explained Chisamile.
Group Village Headman Mbalame cited misconceptions and negative religious beliefs as factors affecting vaccine uptake in the district.
“There is need for more awareness to parents and nation at large so that community members can understand the importance of vaccines in the lives of their children,” said Mbalame.
Speaking at the event on behalf of the World Health Organization (WHO) Country Represantive to Malawi, Dr. Akosa Aise called on non-governmental organizations and community leaders to work together with government in making sure that there is adequate protection for children from polio.
The second round polio vaccination campaign exercise is expected to run from 13 September to 16, 2023 in all the districts at a cost of USD6 million.
Polio is a highly infectious disease caused by a virus.
It invades the nervous system and can cause total paralysis in a matter of hours.
The virus is transmitted by person-to-person spread mainly through the faecal-oral route or, less frequently, by a common vehicle (for example, contaminated water or food) and multiplies in the intestine.
Initial symptoms of polio are fever, fatigue, headache, vomiting, stiffness of the neck and pain in the limbs.
One in 200 infections lead to irreversible paralysis (usually in the legs).
Among those paralysed, 5–10% die when their breathing muscles become immobilized.
Polio mainly affects children under 5 years of age.
However, anyone of any age who is unvaccinated can contract the disease.