Catholic Bishops in Malawi Support Polio Vaccination Campaign, Call for Collaboration

Polio Vaccination Campaign in Malawi. Credit: WHO

Members of the Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM) have, in a joint statement, endorsed the polio vaccination campaign and urged the people of God in the country to participate in the exercise that is scheduled for March 21.

In their Tuesday, March 15 statement obtained by ACI Africa, Catholic Bishops in Malawi made reference to the country’s February 17 declaration of a National Public Health Emergency in response to polio and assured the Catholic faithful and general public concerning the vaccine’s safety.

“We, the Catholic Bishops in Malawi, support the Mass Polio Vaccine Campaign set to start this month,” ECM members say, and add, “This vaccination campaign comes amidst the COVID-19 vaccination campaign.”

The Catholic Church leaders whose call comes after a case of polio was reported in the country’s Lilongwe Archdiocese say that the administration of polio vaccine to children below five years prevents the virus from spreading.

“We assure all Catholics and the general Malawi population of the importance and safety of the polio vaccine in preventing further spread of the polio virus as per the assurance of the Ministry of Health and our interaction with them,” ECM members say.


They urge Catholics and other Christians in leadership positions to participate in the campaign by reaching out to parents or guardians and encouraging them to take their children below five years for vaccination.

“We urge all Catholics and people of goodwill at different leadership levels, including Priests, Sisters, Brothers, Parishes, Outstations/Sub-stations and Small Christian Communities to encourage parents and guardians to take their children or wards under the age of five to receive the vaccine once the campaign starts,” Catholic Bishops in Malawi say in their March 15 statement.

They further call on the health officials responsible for the distribution of the vaccine to ensure its availability at the local level to save parents from traveling long distances in search for the vaccine.

The Catholic Church leaders urge government officials including political leaders and traditional rulers to join the campaign by educating their followers on the importance of the polio vaccine.

In the statement, the Bishops recall that the last Polio case in Malawi was reported thirty years ago in 1992 and Malawi obtained a Polio free status in 2005 while the World Health Organization (WHO) African Region received its Polio free status certificate in 2020.

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Reflecting on the dangers associated with polio, ECM members say that the virus causing the disease is contagious and causes irreversible paralysis to children between zero to 15 years and that it has no cure.

They say, “There is no cure for polio. The disease is preventable through polio vaccine. However, multiple doses are required for it to be effective.”

“The current outbreak of polio is a setback to the efforts and progress made on eradication of polio in the country. In line with the WHO guidance and the International Health Regulations (IHR), Malawi has put in place response activities to contain the situation in the country including a nationwide vaccination campaign set to commence on 21 March 2022,” ECM members say.

Their March 15 statement indicates that Malawi is set to vaccinate approximately 2.9 million children under the age of five in a nationwide polio vaccination campaign.

The Catholic Bishops say, “All children under the age of five are expected to receive four rounds of the polio vaccine regardless of prior vaccination status, to achieve full protection from polio.”


“The first-round campaign is expected to start from 21 March 2022 and the rest will take place in April, May and June 2022,” they add.

Silas Mwale Isenjia is a Kenyan journalist with a great zeal and interest for Catholic Church related communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communication from Moi University in Kenya. Silas has vast experience in the Media production industry. He currently works as a Journalist for ACI Africa.