At least 109 000 under-five children in the country’s nine flood-affected districts are expected to benefit from a measles-rubella vaccination campaign which Ministry of Health (MoH) is conducting with support from United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef).
Unicef health specialist Steve Macheso said on Tuesday at Khwangwa Camp in Traditional Authority (T/A) Ngabu in Chikwawa that the organisation has procured 360 000 doses of vaccine with funding from United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DfID) to be administered to children aged between six and 59 months.
He said: “This is a routine exercise where we are targeting children, especially those living in camps. Camps are a good medium for the spread of measles, which is a serious disease and it hits hard on children.
“As such, Unicef thought it wise to support the Ministry of Health in administering measles-rubella vaccines in the [flood]-affected districts to prevent vulnerable children from contracting the disease, which if not prevented, could lead to deaths.”
According to Macheso, the campaign targets 109 000 children in nine affected districts and that 11 000 under-five children in Chikwawa are expected to benefit.
“So far, the response has been overwhelming and we are optimistic of reaching every child in the targeted districts. For those who may have returned home, arrangements have been made at district level to follow them up,” he said.
MoH Expanded Programme in Immunisation coordinator Mercy Kamphinda thanked Unicef for helping the ministry to roll out the campaign.
She said: “When people, including children, are displaced, they are prone to many diseases such as measles. As such, we are grateful for the support from Unicef.”
Measles-rubella vaccination campaign will run for five days in Phalombe, Mulanje, Mangochi, Thyolo, Zomba, Balaka, Nsanje, Chikwawa and Machinga districts.