* As of Friday, 892,414 were fully vaccinated with 1,142,421 having had their first jab while 766 have had the Booster dose
* New cases are also not escalating as 10 new were registered as of Friday evening
* There were 324 new recoveries and no new related deaths
* Cumulatively, Malawi has recorded 85,650 cases including 2,626 deaths at case fatality rate of 3.07%
* A total of 80,654 cases have now recovered at the rate of 94.17% — bringing the total number of active cases to 2,093
By Duncan Mlanjira
Gavi — which co-leads the COVAX CoVID-19 vaccination facility together with Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) — applauds Malawi for implementing tailored initiatives such as awareness campaigns, mobile clinics and vaccination drives after receiving over US$2 million support from COVAX.
In an interview, Gavi spokesperson said the Government of Malawi has been working hard to increase the CoVID-19 vaccination coverage in order to meet its national vaccination targets and that following its nationwide vaccination campaign in November-December 2021, over 700,000 vaccine doses were successfully administered.
The country’s CoVID-19 situation report of Friday indicated that 892,414 were fully vaccinated with 1,142,421 having had their first jab while 766 have had the Booster dose.
New cases are also not escalating as 10 new were registered as of Friday evening and there were 324 new recoveries and no new related deaths.
Cumulatively, Malawi has recorded 85,650 cases including 2,626 deaths at case fatality rate of 3.07% while a total of 80,654 cases have now recovered at the rate of 94.17% — bringing the total number of active cases to 2,093.
And in the past 24 hours of Friday, there were no new admissions and one new discharge from the treatment units with five as active in treatment centres — three in Blantyre and one each in Lilongwe and Mzimba North.
Gavi is the only global initiative that is working with governments and manufacturers to ensure CoVID-19 vaccines are available worldwide to both high-income and lower-income countries.
It takes cognizance that Malawi has marked one year since the first COVAX shipments arrived and since those first deliveries, COVAX has shipped close to 4 million doses to Malawi to protect lives.
“At the same time, economies across the region are opening up and easing CoVID-19 restrictions, and we are seeing a growing perception that the pandemic is nearing the end,” said the Gavi spokesperson.
“However, it is too early to declare a victory especially considering that on average, a major new variant has been detected every four months since the WHO characterised CoVID-19 as a pandemic.”
Gavi also acknowledged that the strides that Malawi has achieved was also when trying to tackling other health challenges including the impact of Cyclones Anna and Gombe as well as the anticipated polio outbreak.
“The Ministry of Health and partners have done a commendable job in responding to COVID-19 pandemic and we look forward to continuing our support so Malawi can reach its national vaccination target.
“This continued support to countries like Malawi is important because we have seen a new CoVID-19 variant emerge every four months. In fact, a sub-variant of the highly transmissible Omicron version of coronavirus known as BA.2 is now dominant worldwide, prompting surges in many countries in Europe and Asia and raising concern over the potential for a new wave globally.
“If large numbers of global population remain unvaccinated, the virus will continue to mutate. And while many governments worldwide have started lifting CoVID restrictions, it is important to remember that this pandemic is not yet over.
On the low response for the uptake of the vaccines, the spokesperson said COVAX is working closely with the Government of Malawi to ensure successful delivery of vaccines and turning these shipped doses into shots in arms.
“The COVAX AMC is also investing in key strategic initiatives that are country and community owned to generate demand for vaccines.
It is important that Malawi continues to rollout CoVID-19 vaccines, vaccine demand campaigns and work towards it’s set target even as CoVID-19 cases and mortalities decrease.
“Today COVAX has the means to help countries meet their national targets and, importantly, help them exceed these targets should they wish. For countries like Malawi, this could mean protecting their population from the possibilities of further variants by encouraging vaccinating all high-risk groups with effective immunity (primary series plus boosters if necessary) and expanding coverage as per global health guidance.
“Additionally, with routine immunisation programmes being hit hard by the CoVID-19 pandemic and Malawi seeing the reemergence of polio, for example, this serves as a reminder of the importance of prevention, vigilance and vaccination — for Covid and, importantly, for other diseases.
“As we continue to see outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases like yellow fever and polio, Malawi and other country governments are also prioritising continued focus on routine immunisation.”
The spokesperson also said Malawi enhances its vaccination strategies in which it regularly attending special COVAX bodies such as the Advance Market Commitment (AMC) engagement group, which holds discussions and strategic guidance which feed into countries.
“We work jointly on assessing CoVID-19 vaccine stock and delivery strategies and it is very much a partnership model aimed at advancing vaccine coverage and uptake.”
“The COVAX facility will continue to work with Malawi and partners and will continue to evolve in response to a dynamic pandemic — from original plans to protect highest-risk groups (~20%) and push higher where possible, we now have the means to help countries meet their national targets and, importantly, help them exceed these targets should they wish.
“There are on-going discussions with the MoH and the partners to ensure increased integration between CoVID-19 vaccination and routine immunisation, where joint delivery mechanisms are possible.
“We will continue to work closely through the MoH and the partners to support the country in strengthening both routine immunisation and COVID-19 roll-out.”
Meanwhile, in her Friday’s situation report, co-chairperson of the presidential taskforce, Khumbize Kandodo Chiponda said as CoVID-19 and other health emergencies are continuing in the country, people ensure that children’s nutrition status is maintained for their health wellbeing.
“Evidence shows that the first years of a child’s life set the stage for all future growth and development,” she said. “In the earliest years of life, especially from pregnancy to two years old, babies and children need nutrition, protection, and stimulation for healthy brain development.
“Yet too many children are still missing out on the ‘eat, play and love’ they need for their brains to mature properly. Put simply, we do not care for children’s brains the way we care for their bodies.
“But despite the need for nutrition and care, many children in Malawi face challenges as their parents or guardians do not have the opportunity or adequate knowledge and skills to develop positive and responsive parenting skills.
“During the first 1,000 days of life, which are crucial to child development, Malawian children often experience poor health care, inadequate nutrition, little early stimulation and learning, and the absence of a protective environment.
“The challenges increase when children are also affected by HIV and AIDS and humanitarian disasters. Negative social norms, cultural beliefs, gender socialization and power dynamics at the household and community level have also hindered the acquisition of knowledge and skills and adoption of improved positive and responsive parenting practices and behaviors over time.
“Let us ensure that each one of us eats a balanced diet every day to ensure that we have good and optimum health to fight all diseases including CoVID-19,” said the Health Minister.