Dr Betta Edu, the Commissioner for Health in Cross River, has described the approval of Malaria Vaccine by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as “a positive step forward for the entire world.”
Edu told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Thursday in Calabar that Malaria had killed many people more than HIV/AIDS, COVID-19 and many other diseases.
She said that scientists have been searching for vaccines for malaria over the years but have not been able to get a major breakthrough. According to her, over 11%maternal mortality, especially in sub-saharan Africa is associated with Malaria, major cause of death in children under five years is also malaria, the general population even in Nigeria is affected by malaria with huge economic burden to families and even Government. Recent research in Cross River state showed that Malaria was the reason behind most outpatient visits to health facilities.
She added that “getting a vaccine that can prevent Malaria is a blessing and we believe that after due Pharmaco-vigilance, Africa and indeed Nigeria will have access to the malaria vaccine.
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“Once the vaccine is out and the Federal Government approves it and thereafter the National Agency for Food, Administration and Control (NAFDAC) does the pharmacovigilance on it, we will immediately begin the process of getting our people to know and benefit from it.
“We will also carry out sensitisation at all levels, just as we have been doing on Long Lasting Insecticide treated nets. Vaccine is a stronger form of prevention for Malaria. If we have vaccine, then we know that we are getting to the point where we can say goodbye to Malaria.”
Also, Dr Janet Ekpenyong, the Director General of Cross River State Primary Healthcare Development Agency, told NAN that the news of the vaccine recommendation by WHO was “exciting.”
Ekpenyong, who said that Malaria had claimed millions of lives, added that “Most health practitioners have just been doing reactive measures. This vaccine will go a long way to help us deal with Malaria proactively. It is a welcome breakthrough especially for us in the health sector.
“For us, we are excited that our children will no longer die of Malaria and our pregnant women will be protected against Malaria, which is one of the causes of maternal mortality.”
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has recommended a widespread use of the RTS,S/AS01 (RTS,S) Malaria vaccine among children in sub-Saharan Africa and in other regions with moderate to high P. falciparum Malaria transmission.
The recommendation is based on results from an ongoing pilot programme in Ghana, Kenya and Malawi that has reached more than 800,000 children since 2019.“This is a historic moment.
The long-awaited malaria vaccine for children is a breakthrough for science, child health and malaria control,” said WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
“Using this vaccine on top of existing tools to prevent Malaria could save tens of thousands of young lives each year.”
Malaria remains a primary cause of childhood illness and death in sub-Saharan Africa. More than 260,000 African children under the age of five die from malaria annually.