By Thembeka Khumalo:
The Ministry of Health (MoH) Monday rolled out an immunisation programme against polio in Malawi’s latest bid to rid the country of the polio menace.
MoH spokesperson Adrian Chikumbe said the programme is targeting children that missed a dose of polio vaccine.
“Those who were born between 2016 and 2018 missed the oral polio vaccine (PVO) when it stocked out for two years. Therefore, parents of children born between January 2016 and September 2018 are encouraged to go to any government hospital to get Inactivated Polio Vaccine (IPV),” he said.
The gap was the result of the Malawi Government’s decision to switch from an oral vaccine [oral polio vaccine] to an injectable vaccine [inactive polio vaccine].
The poliovirus has three types. “All three are extremely contagious and produce the same disease symptoms but three different vaccines are needed to tackle them through oral polio vaccine administered in three phases: The first one is given to children at birth; the second dose is administered six weeks later; and the last is given when the baby is 14 weeks old,” he said.
The ministry is targeting 1.8 million children.
Chikumbe admitted that, even after 29 years without a polio case in the country, the disease remained a threat.
“We still need to ensure that every child is vaccinated against poliovirus even though it has been eradicated in Malawi for it is still a threat to our lives as it has not been eradicated in other countries,” Chikumbe said.
Malawi aims at completely eradicating poliovirus from the country through activities implemented under the guidance of the World Health Organisation’s Polio Endgame Strategy 2019 to 2023.
Meanwhile, Blantyre District Health Office has indicated that it rolled out the polio vaccination exercise yesterday, to run up to July 14.