Home Governance Liberia Gears Up For New Malaria Vaccines …As Children Get Prevention

Liberia Gears Up For New Malaria Vaccines …As Children Get Prevention

by newsmanager

By: Frank P. Martin

MONROVIA: Adolphus Clarke, Program Manager for Expanded Program on Immunization of the Ministry of Health, has informed partners in the Health Sector that Liberia is “prepared” to introduce a new malaria vaccine, named as “R21/Matrix-M” following its approval by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2021.
The R21 vaccine is the second malaria vaccine recommended by WHO, following the RTS, S/AS01 vaccine, which received a WHO recommendation in 2021.
According to the WHO, both vaccines are shown to be safe and effective in preventing malaria in children and, when implemented broadly, are expected to have high public health impact.
Malaria, a mosquito-borne disease, places a particularly high burden on children in Liberia, where nearly thousands of children die from the disease each year, according to health officials.

However, Mr. Clarke informed international partners recently in Monrovia that the Ministry of Health (MOH) and its partners have put in place all necessary mechanisms to introduce the R21 vaccines into the Country’s routine immunization program to reduce deaths caused by malaria.
The vaccines’ sites assessment in the 93 health districts of the country has been embarked on by the National Immunization Technical Advisory Group (NITAG), and application process for the vaccine introduction has begun, Clarke asserted.
Clarke: “Initially, when we did the application, there were several boundaries that we had to expect, one of such boundaries has to do with stock availability. So, because of stock status, countries were not encouraged to do nationwide, but we had to prioritize within base on the burden of the disease. A team of experts that went to Accra, Ghana, being tailor-supported from Monrovia were able to reach a decision to do 48 of the 98 health districts that means, we were intervening in some counties only in one district, in other counties in two districts, and in other counties, in three districts.”
Clarke narrated that selection processes of the vaccine for its first time introduction in the country was done last year December following WHO pre-qualification and approval of the R21 vaccines.
The EPI Program Manager said the vaccine will be introduced on April 8, 2024, therefore urging parents and caregivers to seize the moment to vaccinate children nationwide free of charge, targeting children between the ages of zero to fifty-nine months.
Malaria is endemic in Liberia and transmission occurs year-round within all geographic areas.

With the entire population of approximately 4.6 million at risk, malaria is a major health problem in Liberia. Children under the age of five and pregnant women are the most affected groups.
The 2021 Health Facility Survey (HFS) found that malaria remains the leading cause of morbidity and mortality, accounting for about 42% of all outpatient consultations and 44% of all inpatient deaths among children under the age of five years.
The Malaria Indicators Survey 2016 (MIS) showed a malaria prevalence (using mRDT) of 45% among children age 6-59 months, with regional variations from 12% in Greater Monrovia to 69% in South Eastern B.
Former US President George W. Bush launched the United States President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) program in 2005, with the goal of reducing malaria morbidity and mortality by 50% in PMI focus counties. The current PMI strategy (2015-2020) has a long-term goal of malaria elimination in select countries. In Liberia, the major donor for the national malaria control program is U.S. Government (USG) through PMI and the Global Fund.

PMI support for Liberia National Malaria Control efforts started in 2008. With an annual budget of 14 million for the last four years, PMI has provided almost $160 million from 2008 to 2019.

Most of the support goes to procurement of malaria commodities—bed nets, malaria test kits, and malaria drugs, according to documents of the Ministry of Health.

Related Posts

Leave a Comment