Malawi has embarked on a national vaccination campaign against measles and rubella to all children from 9 months to less than 15 years old.

The campaign also include administering of de-worming tablets to children aged from 1 year to less than 5 years old while Vitamin A will be supplemented to children aged from 6 months to less than 5 years, according to the Ministry of Health statement.

The campaign started on Monday, July 12 and it is expected to run up to Friday, June 16, touching all the corners of the southern Africa country.

“The Ministry of Health with partners has organized this integrated Measles Rubella vaccination campaign to ensure adequate protection for children against measles and rubella diseases; intestinal worms and Vitamin A deficiency conditions,” explains the statement, signed by Malawi chief of Health Services Charles Mwansambo.

The vaccination is being administered in all district hospitals, health centres and other designated places throughout the country.

According to the Ministry of Health statement, after the campaign from July, the ministry will introduce the measles and rubella vaccine into the immunization schedule for children.

The two combined doses of measles and rubella vaccine will replace two old vaccines of measles and the measles-rubella vaccine will continue to be administered to children from 9-23 months of age, according to the statement.

According to the WHO fact sheet on Rubella, it is an acute, contagious viral infection mild in children but with serious consequences in pregnant women causing fetal death or congenital defects known as congenital rubella syndrome (CRS).

Humans are the only known hosts of rubella and it is transmitted by airborne droplets when infected people sneeze or cough.

“In children, the disease is usually mild with symptoms including a rash, low fever, nausea and mild conjunctivitis,” explains the WHO fact sheet on the disease, adding: “The rash occurs in 50-80 percent cases and it usually starts on the face and neck before progressing down the body and lasts 1-3 days.”

The Malawi’s rubella-measles vaccine campaign is in response to the WHO Measles & Rubella Initiative 2012 Global Measles and Rubella Strategic Plan covering the period of 2012-2020.

The Plan includes new goals to reduce global measles death by at least 95 percent by 2015 compared with the year 2000 levels; and to achieve, by the 2015, regional measles and rubella/congenital rubella syndrome (CRS) elimination goals.

The Plan also aims at achieving measles and rubella elimination in at least five WHO regions by the end of 2020.

In 2010 Malawi experienced the worst measles outbreak with over 200 deaths, mainly children, about four times the outbreak’s death toll of 54 in the year 2000.

The 2010 outbreak infected about 80,000 people and Malawi’s Director of preventive health services Storn Kabuluzi described it as “one of the worst outbreaks the country has ever had.” Enditem

Source: Xinhua/