Ministry of Health (MoH)says it will vaccinate about 7 000 health workers in public and Christian Health Association of Malawi (Cham) facilities nationwide to mitigate further spread of Hepatitis B virus.
MoH Principal Secretary Dan Namarika said in an interview last week that Hepatitis B is a dangerous and highly infectious disease; hence, it needs to be controlled.
In separate interviews yesterday, National Organisation of Nurses and Midwives (Nonm) executive director Dorothy Ngoma and Malawi Health Equity Network (Mhen) executive director George Jobe welcomed the development, saying it is the right move towards protecting health workers who risk contracting and transmitting the disease in the course of their job.
According to Namarika, the exercise is awaiting a Health Sector Joint Fund (HSJF) approval of financial resources for purchasing vaccines.
He said: “We know that Hepatitis B is a disease to consider. It is more infectious in some cases than HIV. There are various sectors of the population that are at risk, for example, healthcare workers are at increased risk of having it.
“We have requested support from the Health Sector Joint Fund on the issue. Once the proposal has been approved, we will look at the procurement of vaccines.”
HSJF is a partnership between Malawi Government, Norway, Germany and the United Kingdom (UK), among others, that finances implementation of the health sector strategic plan which, among others, aims at achieving the Essential Health Package (EHP) for all Malawians.
Namarika said no survey has been conducted on the prevalence of Hepatitis B in the country, but that the ministry intends to get figures from Malawi Blood Transfusion Services (MBTS)—an organisation which deals with selected groups of people that are volunteering to offer blood for patients.
On her part, Ngoma said it is a requirement to vaccinate health workers on their first day of work before they touch any patient, but it is not happening because the workers are not demanding such services.
She said: “Government should ensure those services are available to health workers in the private sector as well so that they too are protected.”
Jobe spelled out the need for government to also put Malawi Police Service, Malawi Prisons Service and Malawi Defence Force (MDF) health workers on its plan since they are also at high risk of contracting the virus.
According to World Health Organisation, the Hepatitis B virus is more dangerous than HIV as it causes liver cancer.
It can be transmitted from mother-to-child and also through direct contact with an infected