Malawi to participate in WHO malaria vaccine pilot programme

Lilongwe, Malawi has been selected by World Health Organisation (WHO) alongside Kenya and Ghana to take part in the pilot phase of the Malaria Vaccine Implementation Programme (MVIP).

Speaking during a press briefing at Lilongwe Hotel, National Malaria Control Program Manager in the ministry of health Michael Kayange said the country was doing well in the fight against malaria and that was why WHO chose Malawi to be one of the countries piloting the vaccine.

The news comes as the country is commemorating world malaria day which falls on 25 April, and the first malaria vaccine which is aimed at eradicating malaria in Africa will begin in 2018 and it is targeting children under the age of 5 to 17 months old according to Kayange.

Malaria is the number one cause of illness and death in the country with an estimated 3.3million episode of malaria in 2015 and 4,490 reported deaths from the disease said Kayange, malaria is also the leading cause of illness and death in children less than five years of age, he explained.

He further said the pilot implementation would be carried out by the expanded programme on immunization in close collaboration with the National Malaria Control Programme and Medicines and Poisons Board (MPB).

The vaccine would be a valuable addition to the measures currently taken to control malaria therefore complementing other existing interventions that the ministry of health is already doing.

We are working with other partners implementing various ways to fight malaria like distribution of insecticide-treated bed nets, indoor residual spraying to control mosquitoes that transmit malaria, Kayange said.

In his remarks, WHO National Program Officer for Malaria, Wilfred Dodoli said the pilot programme would assess whether the vaccine’s protective effect in children within the 5 to 17 months age range during the phase 3 testing could be replicated in real-life.

The pilot programme will assess the feasibility of delivering the required four doses of Mosquirix; the vaccine potential role is to reduce childhood death and its safety in the context of routine use,

We want to eliminate malaria by 2030, Dodoli said.

The vaccine will be administered to 120,000 children in each of three African countries and the MVIP has been funded by Global Alliance on Vaccines Immunization (GAVI), Vaccine Alliance, the Global fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and UNITAID.

Source: Malawi News Agency MANA