Malawi to roll out 2017 Bilharzia mass campaign

Ministry of Health (MoH) will on July 10, roll out its 2017 Bilharzia Mass Drug Administration (MDA) Campaign which aims at eliminating Bilharzia and intestinal worms by the year 2020 in the country.

Ministry of Health spokesman, Chikumbe: Ministry will carry out the drug administration from Monday to Friday

According to the Ministry, 20 percent of the Malawian Population lives along water bodies and this makes them more susceptible to Bilharzia.

Speaking in an interview after a media briefing on the MDA Campaign on Tuesday, Spokesperson for the Ministry, Adrian Chikumbe said the drug administration will be carried out country wide because they have adequate funding.

He said the Ministry will carry out the drug administration from Monday to Friday in all public and Christian Health Association of Malawi (CHAM) health facilities, primary and secondary schools and under-five clinics.

“We will be providing medicines against Bilharzia and also other medicines against intestinal worms. We will be giving the drugs to all children from 5 to 14 years of age in districts and areas that Bilharzia is not rampant but in all Bilharzia hotspots, almost everyone from the age of 5 and above will be able to receive the drugs,” Chikumbe explained.

The Spokesperson pointed out that the Ministry is supposed to carry out the mass drug administration campaigns against Bilharzia and intestinal worms in the country every year but due to shortage of funds, the exercise is conducted in selected areas.

“Now that we have enough resources to carter for the whole country, the campaign is going to be done countrywide,” he narrated.

Chikumbe said on average,  eight percent of the Malawian population is susceptible to Bilharzia and the percentage gets higher in the hotspots where there are large bodies of water which result into the breeding of more snails that harbor the Bilharzia causing worms.

Ministry of Health Programmes Manager, Lazarous Guziwelo said the campaign is targeting a total of 7 million people and that an oral administration of tablets will be done in relation with people’s height.

“Every person is expected to take the drugs right at the centre where they will be administered. People need to make sure that they take proper and heavy meals before taking the medication to avoid side effects,” he warned.

Guziwelo advised that all people who will feel unwell after taking the drugs should report to health workers or any nearest health facilities for them to be properly assisted.

Before 2014, the Bilharzia prevalence rate for Malawi ranged from six to 65 per cent but after a number of MDA Campaigns, the prevalence rate has dropped to a range of three to 25 percent.

The 2017 campaign is being sponsored by World Vision, Imperial College of London and GIZ.

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