Strategies in place to eliminate Polio in the country

Government has said the Ministry of Health with support from partners has put in place strategies for elimination of Polio in the country.

Deputy Minister of Health, Enock Phale made the remarks Tuesday during Polio update press conference held in Lilongwe.

He said these strategies are in line with the strategies recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) through the Global Polio End Game Strategy.

“Vaccines are the most effective and available prevention strategy for this disease in addition to improved water and sanitation practices. Worldwide, we still have few countries mainly outside Africa where Wild Polio Virus is endemic.” Phale added.

Ministry of Health Malawi
Phale: the strategies are recommended by WHO-pic by Lisa Kadango Malango

He said countries have always been aware that as long as there was poliovirus (wild or vaccine-derived) circulating in one corner of the world, there was a risk that the virus can be exported or imported from that country to another country, mostly due to travel. 

Phale pointed out that the Ministry has intensified surveillance for these diseases in line with the WHO recommendations.

“Malawi has sustained good coverages of all its vaccine antigen above 80 percent now for two decades and polio vaccine is no exception,” he said.

The Deputy Minister said the country provides polio vaccine that targets Poliovirus type 1 and type 3 following the eradication of Poliovirus Type 2 many years back.

“We are vaccinating our children with Inactivated Polio Virus vaccine with sustained good coverage to date since introduction in 2018,” the Deputy Minister stated 

He asked political, religious, and community leaders to support the government in encouraging our communities to take part in the Polio eradication activities by taking their children for the routine polio immunization and for the supplemental polio immunizations which will start soon.

UNICEF Representatives captured during the Polio Outbreak press briefing-pic by Lisa Kadango Malango

WHO Country Representative, Dr. Janet Kayita commended Malawi for having strong surveillance systems which saw the country to have no Polio case for the past 30 years.

She said children under 15 years to receive routine polio vaccines in order to contain the further spread of the disease in the country.

Acting United Nations (UN) Resident Coordinator, Rudolf Schwenk said immunization for children should be given a priority in wake of the outbreak of Polio in the country.

He thanked the Ministry of Health for responding favorably when the case was confirmed saying there was a need to intensify Polio immunization program in the country in order to eliminate it.

America Centre for Disease Control (CDC) Country Director, Dr. Kesley Mirkovic said the declaration of public health emergency has shown strong leadership of the Ministry of Health in awake of the awake of Polio outbreak.

She said CDC has provided capacity building, technical support to the government in an effort to eliminate Polio in the country.