GAVI Makes Nigeria Top Priority For Malaria Vaccine Rollout – Pate

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Dr. Muhammad Pate.
Prof. Muhammad Pate.

In a significant development for Nigeria’s fight against malaria, the coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Prof. Muhammad Pate has declared that the Global Alliance For Vaccine Immunisation (GAVI) is poised to prioritise Nigeria in the distribution of the groundbreaking malaria vaccine.

Pate made this announcement on Thursday during GAVI’s visit to the primary healthcare center in New Karu, Karu local government area of Nasarawa State.

He emphasised the importance of addressing malaria with the same dedication that led to the eradication of polio and the success in combating other diseases. Prof. Pate revealed GAVI’s commitment to Nigeria by stating, “Gavi has assured us that Nigeria will be given priority in the rollout of the new malaria vaccine in due course. This doesn’t mean we’ll abandon bed nets or treatment, but it signifies the addition of more tools to our arsenal in the battle against malaria”.

Pate acknowledged the substantial investments made by the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), state governments and dedicated partners like GAVI over the years. These investments have yielded remarkable results in ensuring life-saving vaccines reach children across the nation. However, he stressed the importance of redoubling efforts to reach those children who have yet to receive immunisations.

Highlighting another pressing health concern, Pate noted that cervical cancer is the third most prevalent cancer burden among Nigerian women. To address this issue, the Federal Government has initiated the rollout of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine in select states. This step aims to protect young girls and offer them a chance at a healthier life.

The executive director of NPHCDA, Dr. Faisal Shuaib explained that Nasarawa State was chosen for GAVI’s visit due to its progress in immunisation and primary healthcare investments, despite facing significant challenges that hinder children’s access to life-saving vaccines. Shuaib highlighted the role of a local traditional leader who understands the importance of health and community engagement, promising visible improvements in the coming weeks.

The chief executive officer of GAVI, Dr. David Marlow expressed his gratitude for the privilege of connecting with the people and witnessing their healthcare challenges firsthand. He stressed GAVI’s commitment to supporting and strengthening the primary healthcare system while addressing the unique needs and challenges faced by the communities they serve.

Marlow emphasised the enduring partnership that has existed between GAVI and Nigeria since 2000, highlighting the progress made in overall healthcare. However, he acknowledged the significant work that remains, citing Nigeria’s status as home to the world’s largest population of children who have not received any vaccinations, a staggering 2.3 million. He discussed the potential to prevent countless deaths in Nigeria’s future and projected the possibility of saving 5.6 million lives by 2030, including the potential introduction of vaccines for diseases like malaria.

He underscored the importance of their partnership, reiterating GAVI’s commitment to serving the country. “We are here to listen to your needs and challenges so that we can return and strengthen our efforts,” Marlow stated.

In response to these promising developments, the Etsu of Karu, Pharm. Luka Panya Baba extended his gratitude to GAVI and the Federal Government for reaching his community with life-saving vaccines. The commitment to prioritise Nigeria in the rollout of the new malaria vaccine represents a significant step forward in the fight against this deadly disease. With continued cooperation and investment, the nation can hope to save countless lives and make significant strides in healthcare.

Racheal Abujah
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