Nigeria will get doses of the RTS, S/AS01 malaria vaccine by April 2024, Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, has assured. The Minister, who announced this on Tuesday during a briefing to commemorate World Malaria Day, said that the government has successfully submitted its application for the RTS,S vaccine allocation to GAVI.
Ehanire, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Mamman Mamuda, said: “Let me also inform you that the National Programme is working closely with the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) and other stakeholders in accessing and deploying the malaria vaccine, RTS,S, in a phased fashion subject to availability of needed quantity.
“The country has also successfully submitted an application to Gavi for the RTS,S vaccine allocation. This is expected to be in-country by April 2024.”
Speaking in a similar event organised by the World Health Organization (WHO), the Country Representative of the WHO, Dr. Walter Mulombo, called on countries in Africa, including Nigeria, to keep malaria high on their agendas as they allocate resources to health.
He said: “The first malaria vaccine recommended by WHO to prevent malaria in children (also known as RTS,S) is saving lives. In Ghana, Kenya and Malawi where nearly 1.5 million children have received the vaccine through a WHO-coordinated pilot programme, there is a substantial decrease in hospitalizations for severe malaria and a drop in child deaths.
“The new RTS, S vaccine deployment has been extended beyond the three initial countries and several other innovative products are in the pipeline. At least 28 countries in Africa have expressed interest in introducing the vaccine, with some additional countries to start in early 2024.
“Overall, in terms of reduction in malaria incidence, eight countries are on track to meet the 2025 Global Technical Strategy target: (Cabo Verde, Ethiopia, the Gambia, Ghana, Mauritania, Rwanda, South Africa and Zimbabwe). There are no malaria-free countries in Africa. We need innovative tools and other strategies to accelerate.
“It is very important that we become concrete with what we mean by “health in all policies,” where every department of the government takes into consideration the need for health when designing the policy, be it road construction or others, because they also have an impact on health.”
SOURCE: The Nation