In a quest to protect children from vaccine treated ailments, Malawi yesterday (Thursday) launched an integrated vaccine campaign against measles-rubella, typhoid and polio.
The campaign will run from May 15-21, 2023 and will target children from nine months to 14 years for measles/rubella and typhoid while new borns will receive polio vaccine. Children from six to 59 months will receive Vitamin A supplement.
Speaking during the launch of the exercise at Mtaya Primary School Ground in Balaka district, Principal Secretary for Ministry of Health Dr. Samsom Mndolo said vaccinations have proved to been proven to be the most cost effective and sure way of preventing vaccine preventable diseases in children.
“This is why government through the Ministry of Health is committed in making sure that infants, toddlers and of course children in general are protected from life threatening and disability causing illnesses. There are also vaccines which prevent development of cancer at a later stage in life. For example, young boys and girls risk Human Papilloma virus disease due to early sexual debut and these risk them future cancers like cervical cancer,” he said.
Mndolo said children are supposed to be vaccinated against different diseases and not just once but even several times in their life time. Diseases like measles, polio, typhoid and diseases caused by Vitamin A deficiency are among diseases that are disabling and life threatening.
He therefore, called on parents, guardians and the community leaders to ensure that this exercise, to be conducted in all health facilities, door to door, in schools and other strategic places be a success.
World Health Organization (WHO) Country Representative Neema Rusibamayila Kimambo said the exercise is important because it is critical for the country to bridge the gaps in the immunization coverage that has been experienced since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“All these vaccines and vitamin A supplements have been proven to be efficacious in boosting the immunity in children under 15 years and reducing the incidence and severity of Measles- Rubella, Typhoid and Polio infections amongst them,” said Kimambo.
She said over the years, Malawi has been endemic for Typhoid Fever with significant morbidity and mortality occurring in children under 15 years.
“The disease accounts between 128 000 and 161 000 deaths annually across the globe and disproportionately affects Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. Malawi reported about 32 747 cases and 435 deaths. Of these cases, 61% of cases and 65% of deaths from typhoid occurs in children less than 15 years of age. Also, the country reports about 120 cases of intestinal perforations from typhoid,” she said.