Outbreak of measles in Malawi had taken ill over 3,000 people and killed eight in Blantyre alone. Twenty-six cases have been recorded by Monday in Mwanza and Neno districts. Health officials had last week announced it would require $4.1 million to vaccinate over six million children countrywide.
LIBREVILLE (Reuters) – The crowd of African women are tired and angry after hours waiting in the hot sun, but the officials will not vaccinate their children until the president inaugurates the campaign on state television.
Grasping her son by the hand, Marie Issa is determined despite the long wait to get him a measles vaccination and a free mosquito net which could save the two-year-old's life.
The situation has forced the government to jump the gun and implement its three year interval measles civic education and vaccination campaign to kick start immediately. Four districts in Malawi's Southern region, including Blantyre, are now on the crash programme.
Deputy Minister of Health Theresa Mwale said: "With assistance from MSF, France and Belgium we have rolled out this vaccination campaign. We are mainly targeting children below 15."
She called on all people to go for the vaccination.
A Ministry of Health official in Blantyre, Dr. Grace Chatsika said it was not yet known what is causing the outbreak at this time. "We are still carrying out our investigations and we hope soon we will identify the cause," she said.
Symptoms include a rash, running nose, temperature, and red eyes.
In Mwanza alone 13 cases have been recorded and 11 in Neno district in the Southern region.
“Vaccination has already rolled out in hot spot areas but there is need to cover the entire districts as soon as we can,” said Mwanza District Health officer, Dr. Frank Sanyizi.
In a related scenario, two children died of measles last week in over-populated Chinsapo residential area just some 15 kilometres away from the main referral Kamuzu Central Hospital, and three kilometres from the Catholic run Likuni Hospital in the capital city, Lilongwe.
A source said the children died because their religion, Jehovah's Witness, led their parents to believe only prayer would have cured them.
"They do not believe in medical attention," disclosed a source, Stanley Msonthi resident in the area.
Both the official and non-official figures currently add to 3,026 sick and 8 dead. Cases from other districts across the country continue to be tallied.