Malawi

Status: affected by wild poliovirus type 1

As a result of ongoing disease surveillance, the Global Polio Laboratory Network confirmed the presence of WPV1 in a 3 year old child from Lilongwe, the capital. Analysis shows that the virus is genetically linked to WPV1 that was detected in Pakistan’s Sindh province in October 2019. This is the first WPV1 case from the continent of Africa in over five years.

As an imported case from Pakistan, this detection does not affect the WHO African Region’s wild poliovirus-free certification status officially marked in August 2020. Malawi last recorded a case of wild poliovirus in 1992. The polio eradication programme has seen importations from endemic countries to regions that have been certified wild poliovirus-free in the past, and has moved quickly to successfully stop transmission of the virus in these areas.

Polio this week in Malawi

  • No case of WPV1 was reported this week. In February, the country reported the first WPV1 case on the continent since 2016, with onset of paralysis in November 2021.
  • Following the second of a series of multi-country outbreak response implemented in April , preparations are ongoing in both Malawi and neighbouring countries for the subsequent campaigns.
  • In total, at least four, multi-country campaigns will be implemented.  Round two was successfully implemented across the country, with almost 3 million children reached, with independent monitoring indicating 94% coverage achieved.
  • Lessons learned from the first two rounds will help inform preparations for the subsequent campaigns, including focusing on further strengthened coordination at all levels, microplanning, training and supervision, social mobilization and increased social mobilization and mass media engagement.
  • At the same time, surveillance continues to be strengthened including at critical subnational levels.

WHO advice

As per the advice of an Emergency Committee convened under the International Health Regulations (2005), the risk of international spread of poliovirus remains a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC). Countries affected by poliovirus transmission are subject to temporary recommendations. To comply with the Temporary Recommendations issued under the PHEIC, any country infected by poliovirus should declare the outbreak as a national public health emergency, ensure the vaccination of residents and long-term visitors and restrict at the point of departure travel of individuals, who have not been vaccinated or cannot prove the vaccination status.

Travel advice

WHO’s International Travel and Health recommends that all travellers to polio-affected areas be fully vaccinated against polio. Residents (and visitors for more than 4 weeks) from infected areas should receive an additional dose of OPV or inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) within 4 weeks to 12 months of travel.

Situation Reports