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Nigeria missing as Gavi unveils malaria vaccine support programme

By Chukwuma Muanya
21 July 2022   |   4:07 am
Nigeria is missing as Ghana, Kenya and Malawi are invited to apply by September 13 as Gavi (vaccine alliance) opens its maiden application window to support roll-out for first malaria therapy geared at protecting children against the disease that kills more than 260 000 children yearly in Africa.

Nigeria is missing as Ghana, Kenya and Malawi are invited to apply by September 13 as Gavi (vaccine alliance) opens its maiden application window to support roll-out for first malaria therapy geared at protecting children against the disease that kills more than 260 000 children yearly in Africa.

In a statement, yesterday, the body, however, said Nigeria and others could submit expressions of interest for the second window.

The document reads in part: “In recognition of the technical requirements of rollout and the need to provide tailored support to countries, a first application window, which closes September 13, will be limited to the three countries that have taken part in the vaccine’s multi-year pilot programme: Kenya, Ghana and Malawi.

“A second window, which opens at the end of the year and closes in January, is open to other countries with moderate to high transmission of Plasmodium falciparum malaria. These countries that already submit expressions of interest (EoIs) during the first funding window could signal interest and be provided with needed support to submit quality applications.”

Indeed, the world’s first-ever mass vaccination against malaria was brought a step closer, yesterday, as Gavi opened a process for countries to apply for funding and support to roll out the new vaccine.

The opening follows World Health Organisation’s (WHO) recommendation for wider routine use of the RTS, S/AS01 malaria vaccine in October 2021 and a subsequent decision by Gavi board in December 2021 to approve an initial investment of $ 155.7 million for 2022 to 2025 period.

A 56 million investment through a ‘de-risk’ agreement with manufacturer GSK and innovative financing partner, MedAccess, supporting malaria vaccination is in place.

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Gavi, Dr. Seth Berkley, said: “The work towards a malaria vaccine has been long and hard.”

He continued: “The introduction of RTS, S/AS01 malaria vaccine builds on successful implementation pilots and will be the first ever-widespread malaria vaccination programme. Alongside currently recommended malaria control interventions and alongside these existing protections, it could help drive down child mortality in Africa, the continent that bears the heaviest malaria burden.”

WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, said: “One child dies of malaria every minute in Africa, and we must do everything possible to stop this trend. The new funding opportunity will make the world’s only malaria vaccine more accessible to African children. If delivered to scale, the vaccine will help to prevent millions of cases of malaria, save tens of thousands of lives and ensure a brighter future for the continent.”

Alongside the WHO announcement of finalisation of vaccine allocation framework to facilitate transparent and equitable allocation of limited vaccine supplies and United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund’s (UNICEF) procurement agreement for the RTS, S vaccine, Gavi’s application guidelines are based on targeted support that would grow as volumes of available doses increase through an expected ramp-up in production.

Director of the fund’s supply and procurement headquarters, Etleva Kadilli, submitted: “A vaccine has been the missing piece in the malaria toolkit since UNICEF first took up the fight against malaria decades ago, making this a welcome news. We look forward to working with Gavi, WHO and other partners to bringing this vaccine to the children who need it.”

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