Nigeria not on list of 12 African countries to receive malaria vaccine doses
18 million doses of the RTS,S malaria vaccine will be rolled out to the countries over the next two years.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) announced in a statement on Wednesday, July 5, 2023 that 18 million doses of the RTS,S malaria vaccine will be rolled out to the countries over the next two years.
The beneficiaries are Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Niger, Sierra Leone and Uganda. They will receive the doses starting during the last quarter of 2023, and are expected to roll them out by early 2024.
The first allocation round makes use of the supply of vaccine doses available to Gavi, Vaccine Alliance, via the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF).
Gavi's Managing Director of Country Programmes Delivery, Thabani Maphosa, said the vaccine has the potential to prevent tens of thousands of future deaths.
"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," he noted.
How countries were selected
In 2021, WHO recommended the widespread use of the RTS,S vaccine to specifically fight high P. falciparum malaria transmission.
Due to the limited supply of the vaccine, WHO developed a framework to guide where initial doses should be allocated, with primary focus on the areas of greatest need.
Surprisingly, Nigeria did not make the list even though it carries the greatest malaria burden in the world.
In the last malaria report by WHO, Nigeria recorded 66.7 million malaria cases and 191,890 malaria deaths, more than any other country in the world in 2021.
Nigeria waits on vaccine next year
In April 2023, the Ministry of Health announced that the RTS,S malaria vaccine will become available for deployment in Nigeria starting in 2024.
The ministry's permanent secretary, Mamman Mamuda, said Nigeria submitted an application to Gavi to start receiving the vaccine by April 2024. It's unclear that the announced timeline works with Gavi's.
The RTS,S is the only WHO-recommended vaccine in high-transmission areas and more than 1.4 million children have received at least one of four doses in Ghana, Kenya and Malawi. WHO has praised the vaccine for decreasing malaria hospitalisations and deaths in the three pilot countries.
The annual global demand for malaria vaccines is estimated by WHO at 40 million to 60 million doses by 2026 alone. This is expected to grow to 80 million to 100 million doses each year by 2030.
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