Health officials in Malawi say a 3-year-old girl is paralyzed after being infected with polio. This is the first case in Africa in more than 5 years and in Malawi in 30 years. Authorities say the child was infected with a strain of poliovirus that matches the strain found in Pakistan.
Until this week, Malawi was the last to report a case of polio in 1992. A country in southern Africa was declared polio-free in 2005, 15 years before the entire continent became the same.
Dr. Charles Mwansambo, director of health in Malawi, told local radio on Friday that the poliovirus strain detected in Malawi came from abroad.
“This patient is Malawi, but the poliovirus strain she has is not Malawi. It was first identified in Pakistan, so this is an imported strain.”
So far, the girl living in the capital Lilongwe is the only confirmed polio case in the country. Mwansambo said that everyone who came into contact with the girl tested negative for poliovirus.
However, the Ministry of Health said in a statement Thursday evening that it had stepped up monitoring of the disease, especially among children up to the age of 15. President Ratruschakwella has declared a national health emergency.
Polio is a contagious and life-threatening illness. Poliovirus can infect a person’s spinal cord and remain partially or completely paralyzed.
Dr. Janet Kaita, head of the World Health Organization in Malawi, says the alert is justified.
“As long as polio exists in Lilongwe, it is a threat not only in Malawi, but also in the region, a public health event of international concern.”
She states that WHO has teamed up in Malawi to enhance disease surveillance, detect and identify cases, and enhance regular immunity.
“The nature of identifying children with polio highlights the need to ensure that vaccination campaigns are in place and ensures that all last children under the age of 5 reach with the polio vaccine,” Kavita said. Said.
Malawi health expert Magico Matemba said the government should consider increasing budget allocations in the health sector.
“Some of these shocks, as we saw in COVID, also affect the country’s economy and can be minimized or contained before they occur,” says Matemba.
President Chakwella said in a statement Thursday that Malawi will be the last to hit the country after experiencing various natural disasters such as Cyclone Aidai, COVID-19 and Tropical Cyclone Anna earlier this year. rice field.