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No polio vaccines in Karonga, Chitipa

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A group of concerned parents in Karonga and Chitipa have lashed at the Ministry of Health (MoH) and District Health Offices (DHOs) over the absence of polio vaccines in some under-five clinics.

Some Health Surveillance Assistants that we have spoken to from the two districts confirmed of the development on condition of anonymity.

The parents have expressed fear that their children might suffer from the disease in future after failing to access the vaccines at appropriate age.

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One parent Absalom Munthali said on Monday that his wife has in the last two months been moving from one clinic to the other at Chirumba in Karonga with their six month-old daughter where she was turned back on all the occasions.

“Children’s lives are in danger. Children are growing up without receiving the necessary vaccines. Under-five clinics [because of the absence of vaccines] are all about weight monitoring nothing else,” Munthali said.

He also raised concern that the clinics do not offer nutrition advice and services for malnourished children and mothers as it has been the case in previous years.

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Another parent Susan Mtambo from Kameme in Chitipa attested to the development in her area, saying for the last two months children have had no access to polio vaccines.

She said mothers have given up on taking their children to under-five clinics due to poor service delivery and perpetual shortage of necessary medical supplies.

“We cover long distances to get to the under-five centres and its disappointing and discouraging to brave such long distances in vain. My appeal to authorities is to look into the matter and come to our rescue immediately for the sake of the future generation,” Mtambo pleaded.

Adding: “We could be raising a sick generation and it’s bad for the future of the country.”

But, MoH spokesperson Adrian Chikumbe expressed shock when we sought explanations for the development, saying unlike medicines, vaccines are supplied by the regional vaccine stores.

He said since the last polio incident was reported in the country in 1992, the government has been on the lookout by ensuring that the vaccine is available.

“It could be a problem in the supply chain, otherwise we have had no reports that we are running low on polio vaccines and many others which are necessary. The various under-five clinics may consider ordering for the vaccine from their DHOs before they completely run out,” Chikumbe advised.

He said with neigh boring countries still reporting on Polio, Malawi remains vigilant in conducting disease surveillance by checking for Acute Flaccid Paralysis.

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