The Federal Government has said the RTS, S/AS01 malaria vaccine is expected to be in the country by April 2024.
The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, who spoke at a press briefing in commemoration of World Malaria Day on Tuesday, said Nigeria had applied for the RTS,S/AS01 malaria vaccine in the third application widow for the vaccine, which ended April 18, 2023.
World Malaria Day is celebrated on April 25 every year to highlight the need for continued investment and sustained political commitment to malaria prevention and control.
The PUNCH had exclusively reported that Nigeria failed to apply for the new malaria vaccine before the second application window closed on January 17, 2023.
The World Health Organisation, in 2021, recommended the widespread use of the RTS,S/AS01 (RTS,S) malaria vaccine among children in sub-Saharan Africa and other regions with moderate to high Plasmodium falciparum malaria transmission.
Meanwhile, a third window of applications for support from Gavi opened until April 18.
Dr Osagie, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health, Mamman Mamuda, said, “Let me also inform you that the national programme is working closely with the National Primary Health Care Development Agency and other stakeholders in accessing and deploying the malaria vaccine (RTS,S) in a phased version, subject to availability of the 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.”
The PUNCH reports that despite efforts by the government and its partners to combat the effects of malaria, Nigeria accounts for 27 per cent of global malaria cases and 32 per cent of global malaria deaths.
Meanwhile, the House of Representatives has decried the alleged ‘slow’ move against malaria by the Federal Government and its agencies.
The Chairman of the House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Benjamin Kalu, in a statement issued on Tuesday to commemorate the 2023 edition of the World Malaria Day, noted that “four African countries, including Nigeria, accounted for over half of all malaria deaths worldwide.”
He noted that Nigeria alone accounted for 31.3 per cent of global malaria deaths.
He said, “In Nigeria, malaria remains a significant public health challenge with an estimated 97 million cases and 300,000 deaths annually. Although progress has been made in reducing the burden of this disease, much work still needs to be done to eliminate it.
“The key areas of challenge to address the malaria burden in Nigeria have been issues of donor-dependence for malaria intervention in the country. Hence, the 9th National Assembly has identified lack of domestic financing and lack of use of local content in terms of production and patronage of local manufacturing of LLINs and anti-malarial drugs as a key challenge.
“To address this, the sum of over $300m has been approved under the World Bank and the Islamic Bank IMPACT projects to address and compliment donor support. However, this effort is at a slow speed in implementation. Despite the passage of the legislative resolution in December 2021 to access the credit facility, none of the essential commodities has been procured.
“The lukewarm attitude of the National Malaria Elimination Programme leadership and slow actions from United Nations Office for Project Services, the procurement agency for Islamic Bank funding and the World Bank, has affected the urgent procurements of these commodities despite availability of the funds and commodities locally produced in Nigeria.”
According to the House’ spokesperson, the development had given the members of the National Assembly, as reported by the Chairman of the House Committee on AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, “a great concern due to lack of procurement of these commodities.”
Kalu stated, “With the onset of the rainy season and its aftermath of flooding, leading to surge in mosquitoes breeding and increasing malaria morbidity, mortality and more deaths of Nigerians, the House calls for immediate action to save more lives.”
“In view of the above, the NMEP, UNOPS and the World Bank are urgently called upon to fast-track the procurements of these life-saving commodities to mitigate the high burden of malaria in Nigeria, as reiterated in the 2023 World Malaria Theme.