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World Health Organisation supports Malawi in polio fight

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By Emmanuel Simpokolwe

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has called on the government to intensify immunisation campaigns and ensure that every child is reached with the life-saving polio vaccine.

This comes four days after the country detected poliovirus type 1 in Lilongwe.

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The last polio case in Malawi was reported in 1992.

WHO coordinator for basic package of essential health services Janet Kayita made the assurance in Lilongwe during a press conference on polio update.

She said WHO regional and global offices were committed to supporting the government of Malawi on the polio surge.

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According to her, together with their partners, notably Unicef, Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), among others, they would support the government in outbreak response and help it contain it.

“We have all the necessary tools and all the necessary tactics to successfully stop this outbreak. Malawi has been polio-free before and can rapidly be so again,” Kayita said.

CDC Country Director Kelsey Mirkovic said the detection of polio in Malawi has once again provided them with the opportunity to respond to the outbreak to eliminate the transmission of wild poliovirus type 1 in Africa.

Mirkovic said the key to eliminating transmission of poliovirus was to achieve high coverage of oral polio vaccine.

“This effort will need detailed district and sub-district level micro plans to ensure that every child in Malawi can be reached with oral poliovirus vaccine. Any child paralysed is one too many,” said Mirkovic.

Deputy Minister of Health Enock Phale said the government was eager to control the disease.

Phale called on community members to take part in polio eradication activities by taking their children for routine polio immunisation.

“In line with the WHO guidance and the International Health Regulations, the country is immediately putting in place additional activities to contain the situation,” Phale said.

Malawi obtained a polio-free status in 2005 while the WHO African region received its polio-free status certificate in the year 2020.

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