Malawi targets over 10 million children in 3 vaccine intervention  

Malawi Government is targeting over 10 million children in 2017 Measles-rubella vaccine campaign which is set for 12 to 16 June this year.

Kumpalume and the nurse captured during measles vaccine in Kasungu-pic by Lisa Vintulla
Kumpalume holds a baby as the nurse injects a measles vaccine in Kasungu -pic by Lisa Vintulla

The integrated Measles-rubella campaign has included three interventions; measles-rubella vaccination targeting at least 7.9 million children aged nine months to 15 years, Vitamin A supplementation targeting about 2.7 million children aged 6-59 months, and deworming vaccine targeting about 1 million children.

Speaking Friday during the launch of the integrated measles-rubella campaign and introduction of measles-rubella vaccine in Kasungu, Minister of Health, Dr. Peter Kumpalume appealed to parents and guardians to take their children for immunization during the campaign which government is providing for free.

“I urge you all to bring your children to receive the measles-rubella vaccine, Vitamin A capsules and albendazole (for deworming) during the campaign and you should continue bringing your children for routine vaccines including measles-rubella which has been launched,” advised Kumpalume.

He said the activities would be done through 11,000 sites comprising static clinics, outreach clinics and temporary sites which would be opened for five days in all government, Christian Association of Malawi (CHAM) and some private health facilities throughout the country.

Kumpalume said the purpose of the measles-rubella vaccination is to reduce measles and rubella incidents by capturing children born after the previous measles campaign, vaccinating those who were missed during routine immunization, covering children inadequately covered by routine immunization and vaccinating those who never had measles-rubella vaccine.

“The purpose of Vitamin A supplementation is to contribute to the availability of vitamin A, deworming tablets is to reduce morbidity by periodic treatment of eligible children from worm infestation, and the mass treatment will reduce the intensity of infestation thereby limiting soil-transmitted helminthes,” explained the Minister.

He said with the introduction of measles-rubella vaccine, every child would get two doses of measles-rubella vaccine; the first dose (measles-rubella1) between 9 and 12 months of age and the second dose (measles-rubella2) between 15 and 23 months of age.

World Health Organization (WHO) Representative, Dr. Eugene Nyarko said measles is one of the leading causes of child mortality in many countries.

He said globally, in 2015 measles killed an estimated 134 thousand children, mostly under the age of five.

“Rubella is generally a mild infection, but has serious consequences if infection occurs in pregnant women, causing congenital rubella syndrome (CRS), which is a cause of public health concern.

“Children are most at risk of both diseases – children who are malnourished are even more vulnerable,” said Nyarko.

He said although not many measles cases are seen in Malawi these days, rubella infection however, is becoming common in the country.

Nyarko further disclosed that reports in 2015 indicated that out of the 349 blood samples of suspected measles cases analysed at the Kamuzu Central Hospital measles laboratory, only one case of measles was confirmed but 100 blood samples tested positive for rubella.

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