Malaria vaccine ready in 2 years –UNICEF

The UNICEF country representative in Nigeria, Peter Hawkins, Monday said vaccine for malaria would be available in the next two years.

Speaking at a meeting of the Northern Traditional Leaders Committee (NTLC) on primary health at the Sheraton Hotels, Abuja, Hawkins said, “Malaria vaccine would be introduced in two years to improve health.”

He did not expatiate but emphasised the importance of vaccines to prevent ill-health and death.

Quoting from the Quran, he said, “When one saves a life, he saves humanity,” and pleaded with Northern traditional leaders to sensitise people in their communities on the need to be vaccinated.

He stated further that without the assistance of traditional rulers who sensitised the people about the importance of vaccine, Nigeria will not today be polio free.

“The effect of COVID -19 has been unprecedented. Let us take stock and decide where we should be in the next 5, 10 and 50 years. COVID- is here in Nigeria. We must continue to push for wearing of mask, washing of our hands with running water and observing social distancing,” he said.

While stating that Nigeria has so far vaccinated about 4 million available vaccines, he urged Northern leaders to sensitise the people before the arrival of another batch of vaccines expected in August this year.

He assured the traditional leaders that COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective, adding that the National Primary Health Development Agency (NPHCDA) has put in place mechanism to monitor the adverse effect on those who take the vaccine and there has been no death recorded.

The UNICEF representative warned that if community leaders don’t take the campaign on the vaccine to the people now, different variance of COVID-19 may come in.

The executive director of the NPHCDA, Dr Faisal Shuaib, who was represented by a director, Dr Usman Adamu, said the agency relies on traditional leaders to mobilise the people to take the vaccine. He said there has been Town Hall meetings held at different zones and urged leaders to ensure that such meetings cascade down to the sub regional level.

Dr Shuaib gave assurance that the agency will continue to strengthen primary health care in the country.

Chairman of NTLC who is the Emir of Argungu, Samaila Muhammad Mera, who spoke on behalf of the Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar, said: “It is true Nigeria is certified polio free. We are grateful to God and proud individually and collectively for the roles we played in support of our government to achieve the feat.

“However, the reality is that Nigeria is not out of the woods as cases of CVDPV2 continue to spread even in states that have been polio free for seven years. Added to this is the scourge of COVID-19 and the challenges of educating our people enough to create demand and accept the vaccine.”