On Sunday, March 20, Malawi will launch a nationwide campaign to vaccinate kids against Polio after a case was recorded in February, the first in the country since 1992.
The Southwestern African country secured 6.8 million doses of the oral polio vaccine intended to be administered to children under the age of five across all the 29 districts in Malawi.
According to Dr Susan Kambale, a national professional officer for child health (WHO Malawi), about 2.5 million children under 5 years old will be receiving this vaccine. “We aim to reach every child, we are not leaving any child unvaccinated and that’s the way to go if we are to interrupt further transmission of the wild poliovirus,” she said.
The oral polio vaccine is targeting 2 strains of the virus, including the one detected in Malawi, which will also be given through outreach clinics across neighbouring countries like Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Tanzania and Zambia. However, a routine immunization in Malawi would be given to children to protect them from all 3 strains of the poliovirus.
Africa was declared wild polio-free in August 2020 by the WHO following significant efforts by regional governments and nonprofits to eradicate the virus from the continent, which had seen an estimated 75,000 children paralyzed annually. The WHO had waited four years since the last declared case of the wild poliovirus in Nigeria before announcing its eradication in Africa. Polio eradication efforts in Africa have prevented nearly two million children from crippling life-long paralysis and saved around 180,000 lives, the WHO said.