New malaria vaccine offers a ray of hope to Nigeria. There’s just one thing …

Nigeria has approved a new malaria vaccine called R21 which showed promise in early trials, but there are concerns about its distribution, especially in poor and rural areas.

The breakthrough: The new R21 vaccine has demonstrated up to 80% effectiveness in preventing malaria in early trials, significantly higher than the current RTS,S vaccine’s effectiveness of up to 44%.
* In these early trials, children aged between 5 and 17 months were given three doses before malaria season and a booster 12 months later.
* Serum Institute of India, holder of the R21 vaccine license, has committed to producing over 200 million doses annually.

Stumbling block: Nigeria’s weak health-care network, especially in poor, rural areas might hinder the distribution of the vaccine to those who need it the most.
* The Nigerian government typically disperses vaccines through its 30,000 primary health centers, but only 20% of these are functional due to inadequate staffing, equipment and essential drug supply.
* Furthermore, around 78% of these centers serve more than 20,000 people within a 30+ mile radius, making it challenging for many to access.

Key figures: Nigeria accounts for a third of the 619,000 global annual deaths due to malaria.
* Over 95,000 children under the age of 5 die from malaria in Nigeria each year.
* An estimated 9 out of 10 children in economically disadvantaged communities were not fully immunized, according to Nigerian studies.

Potential solutions: The improvement of primary health-care services is paramount, but in the interim there are suggestions to offer transport vouchers to those in cities and set up vaccine centers in remote villages through public-private partnerships.
* With reference to successful models like the U.S. Federal Retail Pharmacy Program and a church-run clinic in Lagos, Nigeria, the author emphasized the importance of bringing health services to the people in need and significantly reducing travel and waiting times at health centers.

What was said: “Everything in Nigeria isn’t easy,” said Sunday Aromolayan, a resident of Berger, Nigeria, pointing out the hardships in scheduling and waiting times that prevent many parents from getting their children immunized.

View original article on NPR

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