GAVI to give priority to Nigeria in malaria vaccine rollout – Minister

He said there have been accomplishments in making progress in overall health care in the country, but there was still a huge amount of work to be done.

Prof. Muhammad Pate, the Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare, says the Global Alliance For Vaccine Immunization (GAVI) will consider Nigeria in the distribution of the novel Malaria Vaccine.

Pate said this on Thursday, during GAVI’s visit to Primary Healthcare Centre, NewKaru, Karu Local Government Area of Nasarawa state.

“Malaria is a very important disease that we should tackle the way we tackled polio.

“Gavi just told us that they will prioritise Nigeria in the rollout of the new malaria vaccine over time.

“That does not mean no more nets, that does not mean no treatment but at least we have additional tools in the fight against malaria,” he said

He noted the investment from the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), State Government and complimented partners like GAVI over the years and those investments have achieved great results in reaching the children with life-saving vaccines.

He, however, said there were still many children who were missed and there was a need to do more to ensure that the number of those who had completely missed the immunization was restored.

He also said that the third largest burden of cancer was cervical cancer ravaging women.

To this, he said, the Federal Government had begun the rollout of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine in some states to save young girls and give them a chance to life.

On his part, the Executive Director of the NPHCDA, Dr. Faisal Shuaib said the choice of Nasarawa state was because it showed progress in terms of the investments in immunization and PHC.

He said the state also had visible challenges that prevented children from accessing life-saving vaccines, despite all of the investments that had been made.

He promised that the dividends of the team’s visit would be visible over the course of few weeks.

Speaking on the reason for his visit, Chief Executive Officer of GAVI, Dr David Marlow, said it was a great privilege to be with the people, to connect with them, see how they were facing the challenges of health in their communities, and how to support and help strengthen their PHC system.

“The visit is also to,make sure we understand your needs and your challenges, because GAVI is here to look after the countries that we work in, and your voices therefore matter.

“And we will continue the strong partnership that we built over many years since 2000. And we have been active in Nigeria,” he said.

He said there have been accomplishments in making progress in overall health care in the country, but there was still a huge amount of work to be done.

“Now Nigeria has the largest zero dose children population in the world, with 2.3 million we spoke earlier, with Prof. Pate about the future opportunity to prevent deaths in Nigeria.

“Also about the potential is by 2030 to save 5.6 million people’s lives, and that does not even exclude many other potential vaccines such as malaria that we can bring to this country,” he said.

“You have time today, and I’m here to listen carefully to what you have to tell us so that we can go back and strengthen the work that we do.

Responding, the Etsu of Karu, Chief Luka Baba commended GAVI and the federal government for reaching his community with life-saving vaccines.

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