By Sarah Munthali, MANA
Malawi commemorated World Malaria Day in Mchinji on Friday with a call from government and development partners on the need for everyone to take an active part in the fight against malaria.
Speaking during the commemoration function held at Magawa in Mchinji, Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Health and Population,Dr Dan Namarika said malaria prevention methods can only be effective through continuous community-led action and ownership of the interventions.
“This year`s World Malaria Day theme says `Zero Malaria Starts with Me`. If every Malawian understood this and took real action to protect themselves and their families from malaria, we would quickly eliminate the disease from Malawi,” he added.
Namarika noted that many Malawians remain just spectators to the fight against Malaria, and the few who do something do not use preventive measures consistently.
Dr Namarika said government has put interventions in place to prevent malaria, one of which is the malaria vaccine which is being piloted in selected districts in the country where about 120,000 children below the age of two years will be vaccinated.
This vaccine has the potential to reduce malaria prevalence by 40 per cent in a short time.
“With the support of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and PATH, we have introduced the new malaria vaccine to selected districts this week. I am proud to say that we are the first country to have introduced the Malaria Vaccine in the world.
“We are going to closely monitor this pilot phase with the hope that we will be able to roll the vaccine out across the country once we have evaluated the results. This pilot project is a complementary strategy to accelerate the elimination of malaria,” he explained.
The PrincipalSecretary also said Malaria is not just an ordinary disease but has so many socio-economic implications.
“One single disease that Malawi can eradicate is Malaria, and if we are to invest in tourism sector in a big way, Malaria should be cleared,” he said.
In 2018, under the LLINs Mass distribution campaign, government through World Vision distributed 10.7 million treated bed nets to households across the country. This was complemented by indoor residual spraying (IRS) in Nkhotakota District as one of the measures to fight malaria.
World Health Organisation (WHO) Malawi representative, Dr Fabian Ndenzako called for more resources from government and donors to help in the fight against malaria.
“Malawi is one of the countries that has adopted global strategies and packages of fighting malaria, and is doing very well in implementing recommended measures for preventing malaria.
“The country becomes the first to implement the malaria vaccine pilot programme. With the vaccine and other interventions of fighting the disease, we will likely see huge reduction in morbidity and mortality due to malaria,” he explained.
United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the USA President`s Malaria Initiative (PMI), WHO, World Vision, Syngenta, Intermed & Guilin Pharma, Sumitomo and the Malaria Alert Centre supported the Malaria Day Commemoration.