The Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Prof. Muhammad Ali Pate has hinted that the Global Alliance For Vaccine Immunization (GAVI) would consider Nigeria top priority in the distribution of the novel Malaria Vaccine.
Pate gave the hint on Thursday, September 14, 2023 during GAVI’s visit to Primary Healthcare Center, New karu, Karu Local Government Area of Nassarawa state.
The Minister disclosed that he visited a state in the northern part of the country the previous day and was surprised to see half of the children in the hospital suffering from malaria.
He said, “Malaria is a very important disease that we should tackle just like we tackled polio and other things and we intend to do that.
“Gavi just told us that they’ll prioritise Nigeria in roll-out of the new malaria vaccine over time. That doesn’t mean no more nets, that doesn’t mean no treatment but at least, we have additional tool in the fight against malaria”.
The Minister noted that there had been a lot of investments from the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), State Government and complimented partners like GAVI over the years, and those investments had achieved great results in reaching the children with life saving vaccines.
He however, said there were still many children that were missed out and there was a need to do more to ensure that the number of children who had completely missed the immunization be restored.
In another development, the Minister informed that the third largest burden of cancer was cervical cancer ravaging Nigerian women, to this, he said, the Federal Government had begun roll-out of the HPV vaccine in some states to save young girls and give them a chance to life.
On his part, Executive Director, NPHCDA, Dr. Faisal Shuaib said, the choice of Nassarawa state was because it showed progress in terms of the investments in immunization and primary health care, and also had visible challenges that continued children from accessing life saving vaccines, despite all of the investments that had been made.
Also, because the community had a traditional leaders who was in tune with his people and understood the value of health and the value of connecting communities with primary health care centers.
Shuaib therefore, promised them that the dividends of their visit would be visible over the course of the next few weeks.
Speaking on the reason for his visit, Chief Executive Officer of GAVI, 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 primary health care systems.
The visit was also to, “make sure we understand your need and your challenges, because GAVI is here to look after the countries that we work in, and your voices therefore matters. And we would continue the strong partnership that we built over many years. Since year 2000, we have been active in Nigeria and although there has been many accomplishments in overall health care in the country, there is still a huge amount of work to be done.
“Now Nigeria as the largest zero dose children population in the world, with 2.3 million, we spoke with the Honorable Professor Pate about also the future opportunity to prevent deaths in Nigeria and 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.
“So our partnership is so important to us and we will do everything that we can for the communities, and to serve the country. 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”, he said.
In response, The Etsu of Karu, Pharm. Luka Panya Baba thanked GAVI and the Government for reaching his community with life saving vaccines.