According to the Ministry, 20 percent of Malawi’s population lives along water bodies, and this makes them susceptible to contracting bilharzia.
Speaking in an interview after a media briefing on the MDA Campaign on Tuesday, Spokesperson for the Ministry, Adrian Chikumbe said the drug administration will be carried out country wide, because it is a nationwide problem; additionally the Ministry has adequate funding. He said the Ministry will carry out the drug administration from Monday to Friday in all Government and Christian Health Association of Malawi (CHAM) health facilities, primary and secondary schools, and under-five clinics. “We will be providing medicines against bilharzia and other medicines against intestinal worms. We will give the drugs to all children from 5 to 14 years of age in the districts and areas that bilharzia is not rampant, but in all bilharzia hotspots, almost everyone from the age of 5 and above will be able to receive the drugs,” Chikumbe explained. The Spokesperson pointed out that the Ministry must carry out the mass drug administration campaigns against bilharzia and intestinal worms in Malawi every year, but due to shortage of funds, the exercise is conducted in selected areas. “Now that we have enough resources to carter for the whole country, the campaign is going to be done countrywide,” he said. Chikumbe eight percent of Malawi’s population is susceptible to bilharzia and the percentage gets higher in the hotspots where there are large bodies of water, with the result of breeding of snails; these harbor the bilharzia causing worms. The Ministry of Health Programmes Manager, Lazarous Guziwelo, said the campaign targets a total of 7 million people, and that oral administration of tablets will be administered in relation to people’s height. “Every person is expected to take the drugs right at the centre where they will be administered. People need to make sure that they take proper and heavy meals before taking the medication to avoid side effects,” he warned. Guziwelo also advised that people who fall ill after taking the drugs, should report to health workers or any nearest health facilities for them to be properly assisted. Before 2014, the bilharzia prevalence rate in Malawi ranged from sixty to 65 per cent, but after a number of MDA Campaigns, the prevalence rate has dropped to a range of three to 25 percent. The 2017 campaign is being sponsored by World Vision, Imperial College of London and GTZ :