(AP) — A drive to vaccinate more than 9 million children against polio has been launched this week in four countries in southern and eastern Africa after an outbreak was confirmed in Malawi.
The urgent vaccination campaign has started in Malawi where drops of the inoculation are being placed in the mouths of children across the country, including in the capital, Lilongwe, and the country’s largest city, Blantyre.
The vaccination campaign will be expanded on Thursday to include the neighboring countries of Mozambique, Tanzania and Zambia, according to UNICEF which is working with the governments and other partners.
Three more rounds of vaccinations will follow in the coming months with a goal of reaching more than 20 million children.
“This is the first case of wild polio detected in Africa for more than five years and UNICEF is working closely with governments and partners to do everything possible to stop the virus in its tracks,” says Mohamed M. Fall, UNICEF Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa.
“Polio spreads fast and can kill or cause permanent paralysis,” he said.