Nigeria missing from malaria vaccine beneficiaries new list


ine more African countries are to receive 18 million doses of the first-ever RTS, S/AS01 malaria vaccine.

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But Nigeria, which accounts for an estimated 38.4 per cent of global malaria deaths in children aged under five years, is not among the nine that will from the last quarter of this year begin to have access to the vaccine.

The countries listed by Gavi Vaccine Alliance, World Health Organisation (WHO), and UNICEF are Benin Republic, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Niger Republic, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Uganda.

Gavi, WHO) and UNICEF explained in a joint statement yesterday that the beneficiaries will begin the rollout by early 2024. The vaccine are already in use in three other African countries—Ghana, Kenya and Malawi.

The vaccine is the first to be recommended for use by WHO to prevent malaria in children below five years.

The joint statement which gave no reason for not including Nigeria among the beneficiaries reads: “Since 2019, Ghana, Kenya, and Malawi have been delivering the malaria vaccine through the Malaria Vaccine Implementation Programme, coordinated by WHO and funded by Gavi, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and Unitaid.

“The RTS -S/AS01 vaccine has been administered to more than 1.7 million children in Ghana, Kenya, and Malawi since 2019 and has been shown to be safe and effective, resulting in a substantial reduction in severe malaria and a fall in child deaths. At least 28 African countries have expressed interest in receiving the malaria vaccine.

“In addition to Ghana, Kenya, and Malawi, the initial 18 million dose allocation will enable nine more countries, including Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Liberia, Niger, Sierra Leone, and Uganda, to introduce the vaccine into their routine immunisation programmes for the first time.”

The statement added that the allocations were determined through the application of the principles outlined in a framework that prioritises areas of highest need, risk and death of children

Managing Director of Country Programmes Delivery at Gavi, Thabani Maphosa, restated that the vaccine is impactful in the fight against malaria.

He said:“While we work with manufacturers to help ramp up supply, we need to make sure the doses that we do have are used as effectively as possible, which means applying all the learnings from our pilot programmes as we broaden out to a new total of 12 countries.” UNICEF Associate Director of Immunisation, Ephrem Lemango, said that nearly every minute, a child under five years dies of malaria.

“For a long time, these deaths have been preventable and treatable; but the roll-out of this vaccine will give children, especially in Africa, an even better chance at surviving. As supply increases, we hope even more children can benefit from this life-saving advancement,” Lemango added.

The WHO Director of Immunisation, Vaccines and Biologicals, Dr Kate O’Brien, said the malaria vaccine was a breakthrough to improve child health and child survival; and families and communities.

The spokesman for the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control Control(NAFDAC) in Lagos State, Christy Obiazokwor, promised to get back when contacted by The Nation on why Nigeria was not listed as one of the nine new beneficiaries.

As of 10.08 pm, she had yet to do so.

NAFDAC had on April 26 said it would begin clinical trials of the vaccine in six weeks to ascertain the vaccine’s effectiveness.

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