The Ministry of Health (MoH) has rolled out Covid-19 mobile vaccination centres in the country’s rural areas to reduce the distance which community members travel to access Covid-19 vaccination.
In an interview on Monday, MoH spokesperson Adrian Chikumbe said the new arrangement is to ensure that more people in rural areas get vaccinated to meet the targeted 11 million people by 2022.
He said they are engaging traditional leaders to sensitise and mobilise their subjects for vaccination when the mobile clinics visit their respective villages.
Said Chikumbe: “With the low uptake, we might not achieve the target. So, we have to employ other means to reach as many people as possible within a short period of time; hence, the initiative.”
In a separate interview, Malawi University of Science and Technology Academy of Medical Sciences head of biological sciences Dr Gama Bandawe commended the ministry for taking Covid-19 vaccination to rural areas, saying during the third wave, the Delta variant has hit rural communities more.
He said: “We really need to engage another gear and reach out to as many people as we can.”
On his part, Malawi Health Equity Network executive director George Jobe also welcomed the initiative, saying some people will not have to walk long distances to be inoculated.
“We are happy that the ministry has decided to engage community leaders to identify venues. But the community leaders must also sensitise their communities to ensure that healthcare workers and equipment going there is safe,” he said.
The 11 million target for Malawi is in line with Centres for Disease Control goal to have 30 percent of the continent’s 1.3 billion population vaccinated by December this year.
To achieve herd immunity, about 60 percent to 70 percent percent of the population must be vaccinated.
So far, Malawi has received 1 244 640 vaccine doses of both AstraZaneca and Johnson & Johnson.
Currently, 662 638 people have had one jab, while 397 700 are fully vaccinated, representing 2.1 percent of the 18 million population.
The vaccines are being provided by the Covax Facility, a global initiative intended to secure equitable access to vaccines.