‘Nigeria, world waiting for outcome of Malaria Vaccination in Malawi’
Three days ago, a large-scale pilot of what has been called the world’s first malaria vaccine to give partial protection to children began in Malawi. And other African countries are waiting for the outcome of the vaccination procedure.
Malawi is the first of three countries chosen for the pilot to roll out the vaccine. It aims to immunise 120,000 children aged two years and below. The other two countries, Ghana and Kenya, will introduce the vaccine in the coming weeks.
The three countries were picked because they already run large programmes to tackle malaria, including the use of bed nets, yet still have high numbers of cases.
The RTS,S vaccine trains the immune system to attack the malaria parasite, which is spread by mosquito bites.
Earlier, smaller trials showed that nearly 40% of the 5-to-17-month-olds who received it were protected.
Nigeria’s government says it is anxiously waiting for the result of pilot RTSS/ASO1.
The Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole, revealed this at the commemoration of 2019 World Malaria Day (WMD) in Abuja on Thursday.
Adewole said that the success of the vaccine would catalyse global efforts at eliminating malaria.
He noted that Nigeria was responsible for 25 per cent of global malaria burden and 19 per cent of global deaths from malaria.
He further said that despite waiting for the success of the trial vaccine, more commitments were being made by the country with the help of its development partners to eliminate the scourge.
“We are fully committed to malaria elimination. We have developed innovative programmes that will increase access to funds for malaria programme implementation.
“Some of which include the Basic Health Care Provision Fund, the Save One Million Lives Project, and we are also soliciting for additional funding support for malaria programme,” he said.
He said that every Nigerian has a role to play in the effort to end the scourge of malaria, from the artisan on the street to the chief executive in the office.
“There are simple things that we can do like keeping our environment clean, sleep inside the Long lasting Insecticidal Nets, when feverish please go for a test and if positive ensure that you are treated with Artemisinin based Combination Therapy (ACT).
“Malaria is still a public health challenge. According to the World Malaria Report, Nigeria still accounts for 25 per cent of global malaria burden.
“We also account for 19 per cent of deaths from malaria. Though funding for malaria control has remained relatively stable since 2010.
“We need to improve on the level of our investment to achieve a reduction of at least 40 per cent in malaria case incidence and mortality rates globally by 2020.”
Adewole noted that the WMD celebration provides the opportunity to review our strategies and up the tempo with a view to reducing significantly the burden of malaria in our country.
“Let me inform you that we are fully committed to malaria elimination. We have developed innovative programmes that will increase access to funds for malaria programme implementation.
“Some of which include the Basic Health Care Provision Fund, the Save One Million Lives Project and we are also soliciting for additional funding support for malaria programme.
“In 2018, President Mohammadu Buhari approved an incentive funding of $18.5 million for procurement of Long Lasting Insecticide Treated Nets (LLIN). We carried out LLINs replacement campaigns in eight states.
“In order to ensure malaria commodities availability, a national quantification exercise was conducted in conjunction with states and other partners,” he added.
Mr Adewole also noted that the federal government was in the process of setting up an expert group comprising of researchers in the field of malaria to provide guidance on country strategies for malaria elimination.
According to him, the process of Malaria Programme Review (MPR), a holistic review of malaria programme implementation in the country, is on-going and the outcome would inform changes in strategies and interventions where necessary. (With NAN report)