Inky fingers point to healthy future for Malawi's children

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Usually parents are quick to ask children to scrub their inky fingers – but not after a recent life-saving vaccination campaign in Malawi. Close to 8 million children’s fingers were marked with an ink stain to show that they had been immunised against two deadly diseases – measles and rubella.

Malawi measles rubella 1
Gavi/2017/Karel Prinsloo

Alabia Alan proudly holds up her daughter’s inky finger – a sign that she has received the measles-rubella vaccine. She is one of close to 8 million children aged between 9 months and 14 years who were immunised as part of a national vaccination campaign in June.

Malawi measles rubella 2
Gavi/2017/Karel Prinsloo

In total, 11,000 vaccination sites were set up at health facilities and schools across the country. Following the campaign, the government will introduce the vaccine into the national immunisation programme to make sure future generations are protected.

Malawi measles rubella 3
Gavi/2017/Karel Prinsloo

Dorothy Ngwena, aged 44, is one of 22,000 health workers deployed throughout Malawi. The health workers, together with an additional 33,000 community volunteers, took the opportunity to reach millions of children with other health services, including vitamin A supplements and deworming tablets.

Malawi measles rubella 4
Gavi/2017/Karel Prinsloo

Malawi’s health workers played a frontline role in informing parents about the campaign, alongside other social mobilisation tactics. Liana Jere brought her nearly two-year-old daughter Nelia to be immunised after hearing a radio broadcast.

Malawi measles rubella 5
Gavi/2017/Karel Prinsloo

Gavi worked closely with its partners WHO and UNICEF to support Malawi’s immunisation campaign. In addition to Gavi funding, WHO provided technical assistance and training, while UNICEF helped the government with logistics and social mobilisation.

Malawi measles rubella 6
Gavi/2017/Karel Prinsloo

Globally, measles remains one of the leading causes of death among young children globally, despite the availability of a safe and effective vaccine. While rubella is a mild disease, it can have serious consequences if it strikes during pregnancy and causes congenital rubella syndrome. Learn more about Gavi’s support for measles-rubella vaccine.

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