At least 23 million children are to be vaccinated for polio in Southern African countries after an outbreak occurred in Malawi for the first time in 30 years.
Vaccination for children under 5 already commenced in Lilongwe, Malawi’s capital and will continue to be spread out over four months in neighboring countries Mozambique, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe as well.
A month ago Malawi recorded its first case of wild polio in 30 years, the first polio case recorded in all of Africa since the region was declared free of indigenous wild poliovirus in 2020.
A monitoring site has been set up in the capital city of Lilongwe, as well as in three other cities; Blantyre, Mzuzu, and Zomba.
To facilitate the vaccination drives and guarantee that all eligible children are vaccinated, trained surge teams of national officials have been deployed at the district level.
“Polio is a highly infectious and an untreatable disease that can result in permanent paralysis. In support of Malawi and its neighbors, we are acting fast to halt this outbreak and extinguish the threat through effective vaccinations,” said Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa.
Moeti added that “The African region has already defeated wild poliovirus due to a monumental effort by countries. We have the know-how and are tirelessly working to ensure that every child lives and thrives in a continent free of polio.”
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