Health For AllSierra Leone Introduces Malaria Vaccine

Sierra Leone Introduces Malaria Vaccine

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Freetown- April 2024- On World Malaria Day, Sierra Leone officially launches the introduction and rollout of 550 000 RTS’S WHO-approved vaccine procured by UNICEF with funding from GAVI, becoming the third country in 2024 to introduce this campaign after Cameroon and Burkina Faso.

The Government of Sierra Leone, supported by the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF, and other partners, started vaccination efforts at the Waterloo Health Center. Roll-out to health facilities nationwide will follow, targeting all six-month-old babies at risk of malaria-related death.

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Sierra Leone is among the countries with the highest malaria burden globally, with over two million hospital visits annually attributed to the disease, half of these are children under the age of five. Malaria also accounts for 25% of all child deaths in the country.

“With the new, safe, and efficacious malaria vaccine, we now have an additional tool to fight this disease. In combination with insecticide-treated nets, effective diagnosis and treatment, and indoor spraying, no child should die from malaria infection,” said Dr Austin Demby, Minister of Health.

UNICEF, and WHO, along with Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, USAID’s Breakthrough ACTION, Save the Children, the President’s Malaria Initiative, and World Vision, have supported national health authorities to strengthen =vaccine introduction measures.

Also Read: Nearly 10,000 children Vaccinated as malaria vaccine rollout in Africa Expands

“The launch of the malaria vaccine into the routine immunization service marks a laudable venture, ensuring that every child between the ages of 6 to 23 months has access to this life-saving intervention. This initiative not only underscores our commitment to achieving universal health coverage but also reflects our resolve to leave no child behind,” said Liv Elin Indreiten – UNICEF Representative.

However, The country is rolling out a nationwide malaria campaign to distribute nearly 5.4 million special Insecticide-Treated Nets (ITNs) using a digitized registration system for the very first time. With $5.3 million from the Global Fund, UNICEF, WHO, and other partners are supporting the Ministry of Health in this effort.

Since 2019, Ghana, Kenya and Malawi have administered the RTS,S vaccine in a four-dose schedule to children from around five months of age as part of the pilot Malaria Vaccine Implementation Programme (MVIP). WH reports reaching over 2 million children, administering over 6 million doses, resulting in a significant 13% drop in all-cause mortality in eligible children.

Furthermore, Nineteen African countries are scheduled to launch the malaria vaccine this year. Sierra Leone, Benin, and Liberia have received and are administering vaccines.

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