Nearly three million young children in Malawi will be vaccinated against polio, the United Nations said on Thursday.
Two weeks ago, the southern African country declared a polio outbreak after a three-year-old girl fell sick in the capital. It was Africa’s first case of wild poliovirus in more than five years.
Tests confirmed the infection and showed the strain was linked to one circulating in Pakistan, where it is still endemic.
“The resurgence of the wild poliovirus in Malawi … is cause for serious concern,” Rudolf Schwenk, the head of the U.N. children’s agency UNICEF in Malawi, said in a statement.
Polio is a highly infectious disease that invades the nervous system and can cause total paralysis within hours. While there is no cure, it can be prevented by vaccine, the World Health Organisation has said.
“Vaccination is the only way to protect the children of Malawi from this crippling disease which is highly infectious,” Schwenk said.
6.9 million Polio vaccine doses for the children all of them aged less than five years will be procured and distributed, according to UNICEF Malawi.