Cameroon will join the likes of Kenya, Mali and Ghana, as the first countries in Africa to administer the Malaria vaccine, RTS,S from January 2024.
The country’s selection for the vaccine trial will see shots administered to children in 10 of the 181 health districts across the Central African country.
So far, over 1.3million Malaria vaccines have already been administered to children in Kenya, Mali and Ghana, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
The Malaria vaccine is one of the measures stakeholders are upbeat will will roll back the disease in the continent. RTS,S will add to the mobilization of financial resources to step up the fight against Malaria in Cameroon.
As WHO Resident Representative puts it, “There are medical interventions that Cameroon’s National Malaria Programme ( PNLP) can not implement because of a financial gap. So we have to mobilize more resources to implement these medical interventions. WHO is proposing some new drugs to prevent Malaria. We will support Cameroon to get to this vaccination stage so we can be able to eliminate the disease in 2030,” Phanuel Habimana said.
World Malaria Day Commemoration
The WHO Resident Representative took part in a workshop organized by the PNLP on April 25 to mark the 16th World Malaria Day in Cameroon on the theme “Time to deliver Zero Malaria : Invest, Innovate, Implement.”
The workshop was attended by mayors, traditional and religious leaders, civil society leaders, the US ambassador to Cameroon, and officials from various Ministries. It was an initiative of the Public Health Ministry and the National Malaria Control Programme, in partnership with Impact Santé Afrique, Breakthrough Action and USAID.
Stakeholders were equipped to effectively fight against Malaria which remains a public health concern.
Later in the day, the country’s Public Health Minister, Dr. Manaoda Malachie presided over the official ceremony to commemorate the 16th World Malaria Day.
He told reporters that the recent launch of the first phase of the Universal Health Coverage will bring an added impetus to the treatment of Malaria in the country.
“The first phase of the Universal Health Coverage will permit children below five to consult and be treated for Malaria free of charge all over the national territory,” Dr. Manaouda Malachie said.
As stakeholders seek to eradicate the disease by 2030, the US ambassador to Cameroon, Christopher John Lamora says his country will continue to support Cameroon’s efforts to roll back Malaria.
“The government of the United States has been a good partner with Cameroon in the fight against Malaria. Cameroon deserves a lot of respect for the strides made so far in the fight against this disease.We will continue as a partner to push for the results we all desire,” Christopher John Lamora, US ambassador to Cameroon told Crtv Web.
Why Malaria Persists in Cameroon
Cameroon is among the 11 countries in the world, most affected by Malaria. A total of 3.327.381 Malaria cases were reported in Cameroon in 2022, for a percentage of 29.6%. The highest number of cases were reported in the East region, according to the PNLP.
Information from the structure also reveals that 2481 Malaria-related deaths were reported nationwide in 2022, with 71% of them being children below 5. Between 2021 and 2022, Malaria related deaths dropped from 13.5% to 9.9%.
With regards the prevention of Malaria in pregnant women, 54.1% of them on antenatal follow up received at least 3 doses of Malaria-prevention drugs in 2022, meanwhile 580,003 treated mosquito bed nets were also distributed to pregnant women on antenatal follow up free of charge.
In spite of these strides, the disease persists in the country.
“Malaria is persistent in Cameroon because we lack the resources to correctly implement all our interventions on the field. There are some interventions which we are not able to implement because we don’t have the required resources,” Dr. Joel Ateba, Permanent Secretary of PNLP told Crtv Web.
Another reason why Malaria infections in Cameroon are persistent is the abusive use of mosquito bed nets. Dr. Ateba says “We distribute treated mosquito bed nets and people either don’t use them or use them for other purposes. This can not help the fight to go on.”
Stakeholders are hopeful that the Malaria vaccine which will be administered to children as from 2024 will mark a turning point in the fight against the disease.
Kathy Neba Sina