AFRICA—Since its introduction this year, the RTS,S malaria vaccine has been administered to over 10,000 children in Burkina Faso and Cameroon.
This year, numerous African nations are rolling out malaria vaccines, with Cameroon becoming the first to do so outside of the malaria vaccine trial project.
Cameroon debuted the vaccine on January 22, 2024, and it is now part of the country’s national routine vaccination program in over 500 public and private health institutions throughout 42 health districts in the country’s ten regions.
Burkina Faso became the region’s latest country to introduce the vaccine on February 5.
The game-changing vaccine adds to the existing set of malaria control techniques to prevent the disease and reduce its impact.
Malaria is one of the primary health concerns Africa area confronts, according to Dr Matshidiso Moeti, World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Director for Africa, and a larger deployment of the malaria vaccine marks a key milestone in furthering the battle against this deadly disease.
WHO is also dedicated to assisting nations in ensuring that all eligible children are safeguarded from the devastation caused by this avoidable sickness, he said.
The vaccine deployment in the two nations is the first step in the WHO Regional Office for Africa’s Accelerated Malaria Vaccines Introduction and deployment in Africa (AMVIRA) strategy.
AMVIRA was created in response to the anticipated implementation of two malaria vaccines (RTS, S, and R21) into the standard vaccination regimens of 19 African nations in 2024.
Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Congo, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Niger, Sierra Leone, Uganda, Central African Republic, Chad, Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea, Mozambique, Nigeria, and South Sudan are among the nations involved.
AMVIRA will increase WHO’s provision of cutting-edge support to nations in their efforts to introduce and roll out malaria vaccines in an effective and efficient manner.
This project also improves collaboration with UNICEF, GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance, and other organizations.
WHO has sent 69 immunization, data science, and communication professionals throughout all ten regions of Cameroon as well as Burkina Faso to assist nations in ensuring a smooth introduction, community knowledge and acceptance, and improved logistics.
WHO is also collaborating with nations to make complete preparations such as national vaccination policies and guidelines, including the new vaccine into the delivery schedule of other vaccines and health treatments, and preparing an operational rollout plan.
Other preparations include healthcare worker training, investing in infrastructure, technical capacity, vaccine storage, community participation, and demand development, and guaranteeing formative supervision, monitoring, and evaluation of the process to ensure quality vaccination distribution.
As the malaria vaccine is rolled out to all eligible countries, WHO will continue to deploy experts where needed, as well as create strong monitoring and evaluation procedures to track progress, identify difficulties, and support prompt interventions where necessary.
The successful techniques seen in Cameroon and Burkina Faso are being documented and will be shared with other nations as they prepare to deploy the vaccines.
The African continent has the largest malaria burden, accounting for over 94% of worldwide malaria infections and 95% of associated fatalities in 2022.
In 2022, there were 249 million malaria cases worldwide, resulting in 608 000 fatalities, with 77% of these deaths occurring among children under the age of five, primarily in Africa.