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Liberia receives 112,000 doses of malaria vaccine

By Naneka A. Hoffman 

The Ministry of Health in collaboration with Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, World Health Organization (WHO), and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), has announced the arrival of 112,000 doses of RTS, S malaria vaccine – the first ever in Liberia.

The Director of Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI) at the Ministry of Health, Adolphus Clarke, said the arrival of the vaccine is a game changer in the country’s fight against malaria.

Speaking Tuesday, this week in Monrovia, he said the ministry is committed to ensuring that every child in Liberia has access to the vaccine and is protected from the deadly disease.

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Mr. Clarke explains that the RTS, S vaccine was piloted in Ghana, Kenya, and Malawi since 2019 and is safe and effective, reducing severe malaria by 30% and malaria deaths by 13%.

Also speaking, Gavi Senior Country Manager for Liberia Fatima Babiker, said this is a historic moment in the fight against malaria.

She added that Gavi is proud to support the rollout of this life-saving vaccine to children in Liberia and across Africa. 

Miss. Fatima Babiker said GAVI is committed to working with partners to ensure that every child has the chance to grow up healthy and free from malaria.

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WHO Liberia Representative Dr. Clement Peter, explains that the arrival of the malaria vaccine in Liberia is a testament to the power of global collaboration.

Dr. Clement said WHO is committed to working with her partners to ensure that this vaccine reaches all children who need it.

UNICEF Representative ai. Amadou Cisse said the arrival of the vaccine in Liberia is a day of hope for thousands of children in the country and millions in Africa.

He stated that UNICEF is proud to be part of this historic effort to bring the malaria vaccine to children in Liberia and across the continent. 

He expressed confident that the vaccine will save countless lives.

However, studies have shown that children under five in Liberia experience high rates of malaria infection with a prevalence rate of 10%.

The Malaria vaccine marks a significant milestone in the fight against malaria, a preventable mosquito-borne disease that kills a child under 5 every minute in Africa.

At the same time, UNICEF and Gavi are working closely with the Ministry of Health and other stakeholders ahead of the rollout of the malaria vaccine. The Ministry of Health of Liberia plans to start vaccination in April 2024.

WHO is providing technical guidance, primarily focusing on epidemiological analysis to determine priority districts for rollout of the currently available doses, integration of the vaccine in routine immunization to boost wider uptake by the target group, and vaccine administration support to the targeted counties and districts, while UNICEF is procuring and delivering the vaccine doses to the Ministry of Health. 

The arrival of the malaria vaccine in Liberia is a major step forward in the fight against the deadly disease. With continued collaboration and support, the Government of Liberia will ensure that every child has the chance to grow up healthy and free from Malaria. Editing by Jonathan Browne

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