Ministry of Health has recorded at least 32 suspected cases of measles, out of which nine have been confirmed in Area 36 in Lilongwe.
The ministry said most of the affected are those under the age of 15 years who did not receive the measles vaccine during the integrated immunisation campaign against typhoid, measles, rubella, and polio this year.
In a statement released yesterday, Secretary for Health Samson Mndolo said reasons for non-vaccination include religion and cultural beliefs.
Reads the statement in part: “The outbreak has affected several villages in the area, with a total of 32 suspected measles cases recorded as of November 3 2023.
“Blood samples from nine suspected cases were tested and all were confirmed positive measles. Most of the affected individuals are children aged under 15 years, many of whom had not received the recommended measles vaccine.”
Mndolo said the ministry has put in place several measures to contain the outbreak, including supplementary vaccination campaign for all children in the affected areas and extensive awareness campaign on symptoms and enhance surveillance.
Other interventions include management of infected individuals, and collaboration with schools, community leaders and various stakeholders to ensure a comprehensive and coordinated response.
Reads the statement: “Fortunately, measles is preventable through basic hygiene practices like hand washing with soap, covering one’s mouth, and nose while sneezing and coughing, and most importantly vaccination.
“Measles can lead to severe respiratory and neurological complications, and in some cases, even be fatal. The ministry is also advising parents and guardians to take their children to the nearest health facility without delay when they suspect that their children are suffering from measles or any other disease.”
In an interview yesterday, Health and Rights Education Programme executive director Maziko Matemba said the country needs to build systems that can easily deal with such outbreaks.
During the polio, typhoid, measles and rubella as well as vitamin A supplement roll-out campaign in May this year, the Ministry of Health targeted to vaccinate 100 percent of all under-14 children.
Measles virus spreads through respiratory droplets when infected individuals cough and sneeze or through direct contact with virus-infected fluid.