Mother Care Groups in Mchinji
Malawi Health Equity Network (MEHN) is working with mother care groups in various districts in Malawi to encourage women to send their children for immunization and also to clear the misconceptions and myths in rural areas that immunization is evil.
The initiative follows countrywide concerns of such myths and misconceptions in most villages and MEHN also corroborates with traditional leaders to encourage people — such as those that belong to the Zion Church — to go for their children’s vaccine to save lives.
Most Zionists discourage their faithful as per their doctrines never to seek medical attention when they fall ill but just religiously pray and fast. They also believe that immunization is evil.
Currently, over 30 women volunteers under MEHN are conducting door-to-door campaign scouting for children to go for immunization if they have not done so.
In Mchinji, the number of children currently being immunized has risen from 100 to 300 per month and these volunteers also scout for expectant mothers to undergo the immunization process.
Some of immunization being encouraged are TD for expectant mothers; BCG for tuberculosis (TB) and Polio; PCV vaccine for pneumonia; Penta which targets five MR for measles; malaria vaccine, Rota for diarrhea and HPV for cancer.
Edward Jere, MEHN’s deputy coordinator for Expanded Program on Immunization applauded Mchinji for its positive response towards the campaign, saying the district has done so well because as it has hit the national target of 80%.
He said Mchinji had been trailing at 60% but now the figures are very encouraging. There are currently 20 Mother Care Groups in Mchinji of 30 members each.
CERAC Programs Manager, Florida Malango Banda said since training the mother care groups as care givers, the number of kids that have been immunized has increased.
“We are helping Malawi Government to implement the program, which is funded by Global Vaccine Alliance (GAVI),” she said.
Created in 2000, GAVI is an international organisation that brings together public and private sectors with the shared goal of creating equal access to new and underused vaccines for children living in the world’s poorest countries.
In June 2019, the GAVI Board approved a new five-year strategy (GAVI 5.0) with a vision ‘Leave No-one Behind with Immunization’.
Its mission is to save lives and protect people’s health by increasing equitable and sustainable use of vaccines.