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Malawi: Polio Outbreak - Feb 2022

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The health authorities in Malawi have declared an outbreak of wild poliovirus type 1 after a case was detected in a young child in the capital Lilongwe. This is the first case of wild poliovirus in Africa in more than five years after Africa was declared free of indigenous wild polio in August 2020. Laboratory analysis shows that the strain detected in Malawi is linked to the one that has been circulating in Sindh Province in Pakistan. WHO is supporting the Malawi health authorities to carry out a risk assessment and outbreak response, including supplemental immunization. Surveillance of the disease is also being ramped up in neighbouring countries. The Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) Rapid Response Team which is based at the WHO Regional Office in Africa is deploying a team to Malawi to support coordination, surveillance, data management, communications, and operations. (WHO, 17 Feb 2022)

Malawi has launched the first round of vaccination campaign against wild poliovirus type 1 using the bivalent Oral Polio Vaccine recommended by World Health Organization (WHO). The campaign is targeting 2.9 million children under 5 years in a four-round vaccination drive after Malawi declared an outbreak on 17 February—the first such case in the country in 30 years, and the first in Africa since the region was certified free of indigenous wild poliovirus in 2020. (WHO, 21 Mar 2022)