By Steven Godfrey Mkweteza
Blantyre District Health Office {DHO} with funding from UNICEF is from this month year, conducta new integrated measles-Rubella {MR} supplementary activity {SIAs} in a bid to reduce the measles mortality and morbidity rate to nearly 95 percent at national level and in all districts.
The district health officer Dr Medson Matchaya disclosed this recently during the Blantyre city executive committee meeting held at the council officesaimed at briefing the counsellors, constituency development committee members and other stakeholders on the vaccination initiative.
Matchaya said the one week immunisation drive which will start from 12 and run up to 16 June this year, follows the rising cases of measles-rubella in the district and the country as a whole.
“This is the new type of vaccination targeting measles and rubella. We will conduct this at once and combined because of policy change and as a cost cutting measure. Measles and rubella are almost the same and are the highly contagious viral infections. They are transmitted through a mere sneeze of an infested person. When a person with measles-rubella sneezes or coughs, he or she spreads virus in the air which can infect others,” Matchaya said
The Dr added” their symptoms include body skin rashes, flu, fever, cough, red eyes and a running nose. Measles rashes are reddish, brown blotchy and first show on the forehead before spreading down to the face, neck and body, then down to the feet”.
Matchaya said a total of 632,201 children aged 9 months to 14 years will be targeted for measles rubella vaccination, representing a 46 percent of the Blantyre total population.
He said a total of 219,896 children aged 6-59 months, representing 16 percent of the district’s total population will be targeted for vitamin A supplements, while a total of 186,911 children aged 12 to 59 months which accounts for 13.6 percent of the population will be targeted for de-worming pills.
Matchaya assured the guardians that the vaccine is safe and has no side- effects
According to Matchaya, the campaign has set bus stations, schools, homes, prayer houses, marketplaces, homes as, orphan care centre, road blocks and even on the hard-to –reach areas as the strategic points.
Speaking during the briefing, Counsellor Lewis Ngalande of Chigumula ward thanked the district health office for the initiative, saying it would help to reduce cases of measles-rubella before it reaches the highest point.