Malawi doctors on six-month community engagement drive to oust Covid-19 misconceptions

Malawi’s umbrella body of medical doctors, the Society of Medical Doctors in Malawi (SMDM) has said it will for the next six-month be engaged in a drive amongst communities across the country whose chief aim is to dissipate myths and conceptions as regards the Covid-19 pandemic.

Malawians’ reception of the vaccines has been shady and shaky with many thinking that the vaccines can cause health problems to their bodies.

SMDM president Dr Victor Mithi

But SMDM president, Victor Mithi, said during the launch of the initiative in Mchinji on Saturday August 22, 2021 that they have embarked on the half-a-year long exercise after realizing “that people, especially in rural settings, show little interest to get vaccinated, a thing he said is frustrating efforts to contain the pandemic.”

“We intend to closely work with community influencers including religious leaders, chiefs, politicians and community radio stations to ensure they have correct information about Covid-19 and encourage people to get vaccinated,” Dr Mithi said.

Malawi became the first country to publicly incinerate expired doses of the AstraZeneca Coronavirus vaccines following heightened hesitancy.

The World Health Organization (WHO) initially urged countries not to destroy expired doses saying they could still be used and posed no threat to recipients.

Uptake of the vaccine in Malawi has been low and health experts hope the move taken by the SMDM will increase arouse people’s interest to get vaccinated.

Cumulatively, Malawi has recorded 59,399 cases including 2,059 deaths (Case Fatality Rate is at 3.47%). Of these cases, 2,600 are imported infections and 56,799 are locally transmitted. Cumulatively, 45,396 cases have now recovered (recovery rate of 76.4%) and 232 were lost to follow-up. This brings the total number of active cases to 11,712.

On COVID-19 vaccination, a total of 826,184 vaccine doses has been administered in the country so far. Cumulatively 466,948 and 191,901 people have received the first dose and second dose of AstraZeneca vaccine respectively while 167,335 people have received Johnson and Johnson vaccine.

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