Malawi Red Cross calls for massive positive response to polio vaccination

The Malawi Red Cross Society has asked Malawian parents to quickly understand the importance of getting all children under the age of five vaccinated against polio for the sustainability of a polio free status for the country.

Acting Secretary General for Malawi Red Cross Society, Prisca Chisala, made the call on Saturday in Mzuzu when her organisation was engaging media practitioners belonging Nyika Media Club at Mphatso Motel. 

Chisala said her organisation works hand in hand with the Malawi government through the Ministry of Health and at the moment her organisation was supporting orientation of different media houses in the country on information about polio.

“We want to make sure that various media houses across the country are oriented and provided with right information on polio. The disease was there 30 years ago and now it has come back. This means that information on the disease is no longer adequate enough amongst the general public. 

We therefore want to make sure that the general public has the right information on polio so that they are able to make informed decisions to participate in government polio response interventions, one of which is mobilisation of children under the age of five to get vaccinated against the disease,” she explained.

Deputy Programme Manager for the Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI) in the Ministry of Health, Temwa Mzengeza, said there was need to disseminate correct information about polio continuously to clear myths and misconceptions about the disease.

“We are meeting the media here so that we join hands and send the rightful messages out there to dispel all the rumours, myths and misconceptions for people to come and get the needed services.

“The good news that we have is that until today we only have a lone case of polio discovered in Lilongwe. Since that time we have been doing surveillance and until today all results from our labs are showing that we have not gotten any other polio positive case.

“We are also doing environmental surveillance where we are getting some waste water from the sewages for testing and all those have come out negative,” she explained.

Mzengeza also added that people from non-vaccine societies emanating from cultural and religious beliefs were welcome to have their children access the polio vaccine.

Chairperson for Nyika Media Club, Joseph Mwale, conceded that the media had not done enough on polio as it became almost non-existent for thirty years.

“Polio is a disease that was almost non-existent for thirty years and as media I would say we forgot it until this case and I think we haven’t done enough largely because those cases were not available. Now that the disease is back, we need to up our game in writing more to remind people that polio is back and that they need to allow children to go for the vaccines,” Mwale remarked.

Malawi announced a case of polio on 17th February this year. Parents are informed that when any child under the age of 15 is noticed with body weakness and paralysis, that should be notification for investigation, in case it is polio.

There is no cure for polio but there is effective vaccination and immunisation for the disease.

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