The Ministry of Health of Liberia, in collaboration with Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, World Health Organization (WHO), and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), have announced the arrival of 112,000 doses of the RTS,S malaria vaccine- the first ever in Liberia. 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 age 5 every minute in Africa.
“The arrival of this life-saving vaccine is a game changer in our fight against malaria,” said Adolphus Clarke, Director of the Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI) at the Ministry of Health of Liberia. We are committed to ensuring that every child in Liberia has access to this vaccine and is protected from this deadly disease.”
The RTS,S vaccine was piloted in Ghana, Kenya, and Malawi since 2019 and has been shown to be safe and effective, reducing severe malaria by 30% and malaria deaths by 13%.
“This is a historic moment in the fight against malaria,” said Fatima Babiker, the Gavi Senior Country Manager for Liberia. “Gavi is proud to support the rollout of this life-saving vaccine to children in Liberia and across Africa. We are committed to working with our partners to ensure that every child has the chance to grow up healthy and free from malaria.”
WHO, UNICEF and Gavi are working closely with the Ministry of Health and other stakeholders ahead of the rollout of the malaria vaccine.
WHO is providing technical guidance primarily focusing on epidemiological analysis to determine priority districts for roll out 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 testament to the power of global collaboration,” said Dr. Clement Peter, WHO Liberia Representative. WHO is committed to working with our partners to ensure that this vaccine reaches all children who need it.”
“This is a day of hope for millions of children in Africa,” said Amadou Cisse, UNICEF Representative ai. UNICEF is proud to be part of this historic effort to bring the malaria vaccine to children in Liberia and across the continent. We are confident that this vaccine will save countless lives.”
The arrival of the malaria vaccine in Liberia is a major step forward in the fight against this 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.
The Ministry of Health of Liberia plans to start vaccination in April 2024.
Notes for the editor
The RTS,S malaria vaccine is a vaccine that targets the Plasmodium falciparum parasite, the most deadly malaria parasite in Africa.