Mass Vaccination Begins in Malawi After Deadly Storm

Mass Vaccination Begins in Malawi After Deadly Storm (News Central TV)
FILE PHOTO: Members of the Malawian Army and locals help the community to recover bodies of victims in Chimwankhunda township in the aftermath of Tropical Cyclone Freddy in Blantyre, Malawi, March 17, 2023. REUTERS/Esa Alexander/File Photo

In an effort to avert a health disaster following the fatal Cyclone Freddy, Malawi launched a mass vaccination campaign to protect more than 9 million children against various life-threatening diseases on Monday.

According to Malawi’s president, the storm claimed more than 1,000 lives in the southern African nation. In late February and early March, it tore through Malawi, Mozambique, and Madagascar, making it one of the deadliest storms to strike Africa in recent memory.

The one-week nationwide vaccination drive will target children up to the age of 15 and deliver vaccines against typhoid fever, measles, rubella and polio, said partners including the World Health Organisation, UNICEF, and global vaccine alliance GAVI.

In a joint statement, the organisations added that children will also be given vitamin A supplements and that, immediately following the campaign, the typhoid vaccination will be routinely provided to infants in health centers across the nation.

Before the storm, the campaign was already in the works, but it is now more important than ever because of the potential for disease-related destruction and displacement.

“Malawi has demonstrated remarkable resilience in the aftermath of a devastating cyclone,” said Thabani Maphosa, managing director of country programme delivery at GAVI, in a statement.

Thabani Maphosa

“Not only is it introducing a new vaccine, which is never an easy task, it becomes one of the first countries in the world to make the lifesaving typhoid conjugate vaccine routinely available to children,” he added.

A bacteria that causes typhoid fever typically spreads through consuming contaminated food or water and has a lethal effect. Health officials warned that the risk of typhoid epidemics is increased by natural catastrophes and migration, particularly in nations like Malawi where typhoid transmission is endemic.

“This is a significant step for Malawi,” said Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa.


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