LIBERIA—Liberia’s Ministry of Health, in conjunction with Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the World Health Organization (WHO), and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), has announced the arrival of 112,000 doses of the RTS, S malaria vaccine.

This is the first time the RTS, S vaccine has been sent to Liberia, and it comes just a few days after Cameroon initiated a vaccination program this week.

This vaccine has been tested in Ghana, Kenya, and Malawi since 2019, and it has been demonstrated to be safe and effective, lowering severe malaria by 30% and malaria mortality by 13%.

According to studies, children under the age of five in Liberia are at significant risk of malaria infection, with a prevalence incidence of 10%.

Malaria is also a major public health concern in Liberia, accounting for 34% of outpatient visits, 47% of inpatient services, and 23% of hospital mortality, according to a Health Facility Survey conducted in 2018.

Liberia has had success in reducing the malaria load, particularly among the vulnerable population, with the assistance of funding from the United States President’s Malaria Initiative and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria.

The Malaria vaccine’s arrival marks a big step forward in the fight against malaria, a preventable mosquito-borne disease that kills one kid under the age of five every minute in Africa.

Adolphus Clarke, Director of the Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI) at Liberia’s Ministry of Health, expressed optimism that the delivery of this life-saving vaccine will be a game changer in the fight against malaria.

He went on to express his determination to ensure that every child in Liberia has access to the vaccine and is protected from this lethal disease.

During this news conference, Fatima Babiker, Gavi’s Senior Country Manager for Liberia, expressed Gavi’s support for the distribution of this life-saving vaccine to children in Liberia and across Africa.

She went on to underline their commitment to working with their partners to ensure that every child has the opportunity to grow up healthy and free of malaria.

Amadou Cisse, UNICEF Representative, expressed confidence, stating that this arrival brings hope to millions of African children and that UNICEF is happy to be a part of this historic endeavour to bring malaria vaccine to children in Liberia and across the continent.

WHO, UNICEF and Gavi are collaborating with the Ministry of Health and other stakeholders to prepare for the malaria vaccine’s rollout.

WHO is providing technical guidance, primarily focusing on epidemiological analysis to identify priority districts for the rollout of currently available doses, vaccine integration into routine immunization to increase target group uptake, and vaccine administration support to targeted counties and districts.

UNICEF, for its part, is acquiring and providing vaccination doses to the Ministry of Health.

The delivery of the malaria vaccine in Liberia represents a significant step forward in the fight against this deadly illness.

With continuous collaboration and assistance, the Liberian government will ensure that every child has the opportunity to grow up healthy and malaria-free.

Liberia’s Ministry of Health expects to begin vaccination in April 2024.

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