Malawi launches Polio vaccination campaign targeting 2.9 Million children


The Minister of Health Khumbize Kandodo Chiponda has today launched Polio immunization campaign in TA Kalolo at Chileka CDSS in Lilongwe.

The polio immunization exercise will start tomorrow on Monday 21st March, 2022. The exercise will be done in four months starting from Monday 21st March up to July 2022.

2.9 Million children under the age of 5 are expected to receive four rounds of the vaccine, regardless of prior vaccination status, to achieve full protection from polio.

Speaking at the launch, Chiponda said the Ministry of Health with support from partners has put in place strategies for eradication of Polio in the country. These strategies are in line with the strategies recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) through the Polio End Game Strategy and with support from the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), and polio immunization exercise is one of the strategies.

“The first strategy is to implement High Quality Supplementary Immunization Activities(SIA) campaign with bivalent Oral Polio Vaccine (bOPV), to be conducted in four campaign rounds at a minimum. A Door to Door campaign strategy will be used including our usual health facilities. On 5th March, 2022, we received 6.8 million doses of the oral polio vaccine (bOPV) for two rounds of the campaign and these have already been distributed to all the districts in readiness for polio vaccination campaign.

“The target population is all children aged 0 – 5 years in all districts targeting 2,922,175 children. The second Round is scheduled to commence in April 2022 with the third and fourth round in June and July 2022 respectively”.

“The second one is enhancing surveillance for Polio through active case search and establishing environmental surveillance sites across the country to ensure that no polio case is missed, and also Strengthening the routine immunization for Polio through bOPV and Inactivated PolioVaccine(IPV) including other child hood vaccines,” said Chiponda.

Chiponda thanked the Global Polio Eradication Initiative and all partners who are supporting Malawi in this polio outbreak. Adding that Malawi cannot succeed in the work of fighting diseases including polio, if we do not work with our leaders at all levels including at community level.

The Minister has therefore urged every parent to take all their children who are less than 5 years old, to get vaccinated against polio, regardless of whether they already received polio vaccine or not.

Khumbize also noted that the vaccine is safe and has no any side effects, therefore parents should bring their children to receive the vaccine as it is the only way to prevent the disease.

In his remarks Unicef Country Representative, Rudolf Schwenk said, Unicef is supporting Malawi Government in this campaign to ensure that all children in Malawi get vaccinated and that the country will be able to keep its polio-free status.

“UNICEF is fully committed to working together with the government and GPEI partners to ensure the effective implementation of the polio response plan. UNICEF has already procured and distributed 6.9 million doses of polio vaccines to all 28 districts and 865 health facilities for the nationwide polio campaigns. We have supported the installation of 220 new vaccine refrigerators, repairment of 135, and the distribution of 3,000 vaccine carriers and 150 cold boxes to all districts in Malawi,” said Schwenk.

He then commended the Ministry of Health for its continued leadership in spearheading the polio response with this nationwide polio vaccination campaign.

“I also want to thank the global donors and partners, including the World Health Organization, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and other Global Polio Eradication Initiative stakeholders, for their unwavering commitment and support to ensure that every child has a life free from polio,” said Schwenk.

So far Malawi has only registered one case of polio and the case was registered last month in Lilongwe.

Polio or poliomyelitis is a disease which is characterized by irreversible paralysis mainly in children zero to fifteen years of age and it is caused by polio virus.