Malawi Red Cross Society (MRCS) has urged parents and caregivers in the country to take their children for Measles-Rubella vaccination during the week long vaccination campaign which will start on Monday.
MRCS, in the mobilisation exercise, has brought together almost 2600 of its volunteers who are conducting door to door visits in all the locations of six districts namely Blantyre, Zomba, Mangochi, Lilongwe, Mzuzu and Mzimba.
Taonga Nyekanyeka, MRCS programmes manager who is also focal person for the mobilisation campaign, said the door to door strategy is ideal as the volunteers are providing informed viewpoints about Measles-Rubella vaccination to parents and caregivers.
He added that the strategy, to run for 10 days up to the last day of the vaccination period, also gives the parents and caregivers an opportunity to get answers to their unresolved questions or concerns that other channels do not answer.
“Volunteers are visiting households to sensitize parents and caregivers regarding measles control and the need for parents and caregivers to take their children for the Measles-Rubella vaccination campaign.
“The volunteers are also making a count of targeted children in a household to inform accurate planning and measurement of vaccination coverage at the end of the campaign,” said Nyekanyeka.
American Red Cross measles rubella advisor Amina Ismail said rubella is a big issue and globally, the disease occurs under measles.
She added that, as such, many countries on the globe have introduced the Measles-Rubella vaccine as one component.
“In Africa, we have several countries who have introduced the vaccine together with the measles vaccine. For Malawi to come into the scene, it just shows that it is moving on with the rest of the globe to ensure that its children and mothers are protected against this preventable disease,” said Ismail.
According to one of the volunteers, Sheriffa Bakali, most of the households being visited in the locations have an idea about the Measles Rubella campaign.
“When visiting the households, we are just adding on to the information which they already have. From the households, we are gathering information regarding how many children aged nine months to 15 years are there and also encouraging them to take these children to get the vaccination,” said Bakali.
The vaccination campaign, to take place in all public and Christian Hospital Association of Malawi (Cham) facilities and other designated sites, will see a combined measles and rubella vaccine being administered to children from nine months old to less than 15 years old.
De-worming tablets will be administered to children aged a year-old to less than five years while a vitamin A capsule will be supplemented to children aged from six months to less than five years.
The Ministry of Health (MoH) has organised the Measles-Rubella vaccination campaign to ensure adequate protection of children against measles and rubella diseases; intestinal worms and vitamin A deficiency conditions.
After the campaign, from July 2017, MoH will introduce the measles and rubella vaccine into the routine immunization schedule for children. The children will be given two doses of the combined measles and rubella vaccine to replace the two doses of measles vaccine.
The vaccine will continue to be given to children from nine to 15 months of age. About 8 million children are expected to receive the vaccine during the campaign.