The New Times (Kigali)

30 September 2012

Rwanda: Malaria Vaccine to Be Available By 2015

Experts from the Malaria Vaccine Initiative have announced that the Malaria Vaccine might be available by the year 2015. This was revealed during the first Malaria Forum that has just concluded in Kigali.

Dr. Bernhards Ogutu, Coordinator, Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMR)I trials sites, said a first ever vaccine against malaria might be available if recommended by the World Health Organisation.

"Multiple types of evidence at national level would be required for an informed policy decision; impact would only be achieved through effective implementation and post-implementation planning" he said.

According to their plan, if the European Medicines Agency (EMA) provides an opinion by2014, and National Regulatory Authorities in individual African countries decide on use in their countries, the vaccine could be available as early as 2015.

Dr Antoinette Ba-Nguz , in charge of Policy and Access in Malaria Vaccine Initiative, said Malaria vaccines are a potential complementary tool for control & elimination and eradication.

"Progress has been made in malaria vaccine research, there is hope for a first-generation vaccine, RTS,S," she added.

Ba- Nguz added that a timely decision on the vaccine needs early country-level planning, Scale-up current interventions and collect data to inform future decisions.

She continued to mention that early preparation would identify potential bottlenecks, strengthen current malaria and immunization programmes and enable evidence-based decision.

Dr Ogutu said that Malaria Vaccine Initiative will coordinate and/or facilitate processes to define the vaccine(s) required to support the goal of eradication and will accelerate their development through a robust prioritization of its investments and activities.

According to WHO, there are 250 million cases of malaria each year, 86% of which are in sub-Saharan Africa, there are also 800,000 deaths/year, mostly among African children under five years.

There has been a major scaling-up in distribution of malaria control measures particularly since the advent of The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

It is unclear what the future will hold for disease burden trends. If political will and funding is maintained, the disease burden could drop; but if, as in the past, funding lapses or clinically significant resistance develops to the main antimalarial drugs and insecticides used then the disease burden may rise again.

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