By Blessings Mpinganjira
Following successful trials of malaria vaccines, the World Health Organisation has nodded to Malawi’s plans to roll out a national vaccination programme.
Ministry of Health spokesperson Adrian Chikumbe told The Daily Times Tuesday that this would start a few months from now, when all district hospitals are expected to be turned into vaccination centres.
“We want to mobilise all the necessary resources to ensure that the vaccine is available in all public hospitals. We are expected to roll out the vaccine in all the districts in a few months.
“Since the introduction of the pilot phase of the vaccine two years ago, we have registered a reduction in cases of death among under-five children in districts where the vaccine was being administered,” Chikumbe said.
A successful pilot phase of the programme targeted 11 malaria prevalence districts in the past two years.
With over six million cases annually, malaria is one of the public health problems that cost the country huge financial resources in prevention, treatment and awareness expenses.
It is also the country’s top killer, ravaging more at the under-five children level, and immunisation is expected to have massive economic and health impacts on Malawi and other countries with high levels of malaria infection.
Meanwhile, health rights advocate Maziko Matemba has said “timely vaccination” will reduce cases of malaria-related death among under-five children.
“Vaccination will also serve as a cost-serving measure in the Ministry of Health,” he said.
Malawi, Ghana and Kenya were among the first countries in Africa to roll out the pilot phase of the vaccine in 2019.
The mosquito-borne disease is one of the fastest silent killer diseases, claiming almost 2,500 lives in Malawi every year.