Blantyre — At least 109, 000 under-five children in the country's nine flood-affected districts are expected to benefit from measles rubella vaccination campaign currently being conducted by Ministry of Health with support from United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF).
UNICEF Health Specialist, Steve Macheso, said on Tuesday at Khwangwa Camp in Traditional Authority Ngabu in Chikwawa that the organization has procured 360, 000 doses of vaccine with funding from Department for International Development to be administered to children aged between 6 months and 59 months to protect them from the deadly disease.
"This is a routine exercise where we are targeting children, especially those living in camps. We are doing this because camps are a good medium for the spread of measles, which is a serious disease and it hits hard on children.
"As such, UNICEF thought it wise to support the Ministry of Health in administering measles rubella vaccines in the [flood]-affected districts to prevent the vulnerable children from contracting the disease, which if not prevented, could lead to deaths," Macheso said.
According to Macheso, the campaign targets 109, 000 children in nine affected districts and that for Chikwawa only, 11, 000 under-five children are expected to benefit.
"So far, the response has been overwhelming and we are optimistic of protecting each and every child in the targeted districts.
"For those who might have gone back home, arrangements have been made at district level to follow them up," he said.
Coordinator for Expanded Programme in Immunization for the Ministry of Health, Mercy Kaphinda thanked UNICEF for assisting the ministry for rolling out the campaign.
"When people, including children, are displaced, they are prone to many diseases such as measles. As such, we are grateful for the support from UNICEF," Kaphinda said.
Kaphinda, therefore, encouraged parents and guardians to bring their children irrespective of their immunization status.
"This campaign has come as an emergency because of the environment children are exposed to. As such, we would like every child to benefit from this because it acts as a booster to their immune system," she added.
Measles rubella vaccination campaign will run for five days in the districts of Phalombe, Mulanje, Mangochi, Thyolo, Zomba, Balaka, Nsanje, Chikwawa and Machinga.