Minister of Health Khumbize Chiponda has launched the first round of the 2021 Child Health Days during which 1 678 274 children and 139 457 post-partum mothers are expected to be reached with Vitamin A supplementation.
Speaking in Lilongwe on Friday during the launch, the minister encouraged all caregivers to take their children to health facilities to receive Vitamin A and deworming tablets. The first round of this year’s Child Health Days will run from June 21 to July 9
The minister added that 1 484 627 children are expected to receive deworming tablets, saying such services and interventions are all important for child survival.
Said Chiponda: “The first week of campaign activities will focus on provision of Vitamin A supplementation and deworming tablets.
“These activities will be accompanied by an intensive social mobilisation and information, education and communication campaign with emphasis on hygiene, infant and young child feeding as well as use of insecticide-treated nets.”
She said only children aged six to 11 months and post-natal mothers of less than eight weeks will receive Vitamin A capsules.
The minister thanked development partners, namely World Health Organisation, United Nations Children Fund (Unicef), Gavi the Vaccine Alliance, Nutrition International, Nascent Solutions, and World Vision Malawi for supporting the campaign.
On his part, Unicef Malawi representative Rudolf Schwenk observed that Vitamin A deficiency was the leading cause of preventable childhood blindness and increases the risk of death from common childhood illnesses such as diarrhoea.
He said: “Globally, more than one third of children in need are not receiving the life-saving benefits of Vitamin A supplementation.
“We know that micronutrient deficiency diseases are responsible for the impairment of hundreds of millions of growing minds and the lowering of national IQ.”
According to Schwenk, the deficiencies are responsible for extensive damage to immune systems, and the preventable deaths of over one million children a year.
Nutrition International representative Julita Manda commended government for its commitment to ensuring that each child survives to reach their full potential.
She said this year’s Child Health Day’s campaign has been financially supported by the government of Canada.