Geneva, 2 December 2021 – The Board of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance today approved an investment to support the malaria vaccine introduction, procurement and delivery for Gavi-eligible countries in sub-Saharan Africa in 2022-2025. An initial investment of US$ 155.7 million for 2022-2025 will initiate the implementation of this additional tool in the fight against malaria. The introduction of the RTS,S malaria vaccine to currently recommended malaria control interventions could help drive down child mortality in Africa – a continent that bears the heaviest malaria burden.
“I am greatly heartened that the Gavi Board has approved funding for a new malaria vaccination programme,” said José Manuel Barroso, Chair of the Gavi Board. “Thanks to the collaborative efforts of the global health community, we are better armed to tackle this deadly disease, and once the vaccine is rolled out at scale, we will be able to help protect millions of lives.”
Following today’s decision, a series of critical next steps will need take place before the vaccine is rolled-out to Gavi-supported countries. This includes technical guidance on the use of the vaccine alongside other malaria interventions, procurement of the vaccine, and the opening of the funding window to allow applications from countries that receive support from Gavi.
“Today marks an important milestone in our fight against malaria,” said Dr Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. “This decision by the Gavi Board to finance a new malaria vaccination programme for countries in sub-Saharan Africa could save tens of thousands of lives annually in Africa. The vaccine is an important additional tool to control malaria in Africa, alongside other interventions, such as routine use of insecticide-treated bed nets, indoor spraying with insecticides, malaria chemoprevention, and timely testing and treatment. We look forward to working with global malaria stakeholders to make sure that countries are able to implement this promising tool in the fight against malaria.”
The approval of the funding follows WHO’s recommendation for wider routine use of the RTS,S malaria vaccine on 6 October 2021. African countries played a critical role in the positive recommendation, as it was based on data gathered trough the Malaria Vaccine Implementation Programme (MVIP) which took place in Kenya, Ghana and Malawi over a two-year period and a clinical trial around the seasonal delivery of the vaccine in Mali and Burkina Faso. The vaccine received a positive scientific opinion from the European Medicines Agency (EMA) under its article 58 for medicines for use outside of the EU in 2015.
“Ghana, together with several countries on the continent, is proud to have been involved in the pilot program and the development of the first approved malaria vaccine, and today we welcome the decision made by the Gavi board to invest in the malaria vaccine programme. We must now work together to ensure children across the continent can benefit from this additional malaria intervention,” said Hon. Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, Minister of Health of Ghana.
Over two-thirds of the children in the pilot countries who were not using bednets were reached by the malaria vaccine, proving that child immunisation provides a powerful platform to reach vulnerable children, including those that are unreached with existing prevention interventions, and can help advance the equity agenda.
“We are thrilled to learn of Gavi’s decision to invest in a new tool for malaria control. The RTS,S vaccine has proved to be an important addition to the currently recommended interventions to prevent malaria in areas where it has been used here in Kenya. We welcome the news of Gavi funding to support wider use of this vaccine, which has the potential to save tens of thousands of young children’s lives each year on our continent,” said Dr Rose Jalang’o, National Vaccines and Immunization Program, Ministry of Health of Kenya.
More than 260 000 African children under the age of five die from malaria annually, and six Gavi-eligible countries account for 50% of global mortality.