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Accra, Ghana, July 14, 2010—Leading medical researchers and public health officials from five African countries have concluded four days of deliberations here on strategies for supporting the introduction of malaria vaccines in countries where the malaria burden is greatest. The scientists, selected for the Malaria Vaccine Advocacy Fellowship, met with experts from global health agencies as part of the meeting aimed at energizing dialogue in sub-Saharan Africa about the need to include vaccines in an arsenal that already includes bed nets, anti-malarial drugs, and indoor residual spraying.
Malaria is a leading cause of death among young children in Africa, where most of the estimated 900,000 annual deaths from the disease occur, and accounts for 40 percent of Africa’s public health expenditure. The use of existing tools such as bed nets, drugs, and residual spraying has been effective in parts of Africa, but the disease continues to ravage the continent.
“We are closer than ever to having a first malaria vaccine available for use,” said Dr. Antoinette Ba-Nguz, Senior Program Officer for Africa at the PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative’s Nairobi office and a meeting participant. “This would be an incredibly important and exciting development for Africa, a complement to the tools already in use.”
“The Malaria Vaccine Advocacy Fellowship is designed to help scientists communicate effectively, so that they support informed decision-making across the region. This is important since we know from experience how long it can take to make a vaccine widely available for use. We can’t afford for that to happen with a malaria vaccine. There are too many lives to be saved.”
The Fellowship is a program of the PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative and is supported by the ExxonMobil Foundation. The fellowship is now in its fifth year and has trained more than three dozen scientists.
The Accra meeting included representatives from Ghana:
From Burkina Faso:
The PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative (MVI) is a global program established at PATH in 1999 through an initial grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. MVI's mission is to accelerate the development of malaria vaccines and ensure their availability and accessibility in the developing world. MVI's vision is a world free from malaria. For more information, please visit www.malariavaccine.org.