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WHO recommends new malaria vaccine

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The World Health Organisation has recommended a new vaccine, R21/Matrix-M, for the prevention of malaria in children.

The recommendation follows advice from the WHO Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunisation and the Malaria Policy Advisory Group and was endorsed by the WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, following its regular biannual meeting held on September 25 -29.

The global health body disclosed this on Monday, in a press statement.

In April, Nigeria became the second country to approve the R21 malaria vaccine, after Ghana.

The R21/Matrix-M malaria vaccine, developed by the University of Oxford and manufactured and scaled up by the Serum Institute of India, is only the second vaccine the world has seen for a disease that has caused untold suffering for millennia.

WHO also issued recommendations on the advice of SAGE for new vaccines for dengue and meningitis, along with immunisation schedules and product recommendations for COVID-19.

WHO also issued key immunisation programmatic recommendations on polio, Immunisation Agenda 2030, and recovering the immunisation programme.

The R21 vaccine is the second malaria vaccine recommended by WHO, following the RTS,S/AS01 vaccine, which received a WHO recommendation in 2021.

“Both vaccines are shown to be safe and effective in preventing malaria in children and, when implemented broadly, are expected to have high public health impact,” the statement read partly.

Malaria, a mosquito-borne disease, places a particularly high burden on children in the African Region, where nearly half a million children die from the disease each year.

WHO said the demand for malaria vaccines is unprecedented; however, available supply of RTS,S/AS01 vaccine is limited.

In response to the high demand for the first-ever malaria vaccine, 12 countries in Africa were in July allocated a total of 18 million doses of RTS,S/AS01 for the 2023–2025 period.

The allocations were made to Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Liberia, Niger, Sierra Leone and Uganda.

However, the addition of R21 to the list of WHO-recommended malaria vaccines is expected to result in sufficient vaccine supply to benefit all children living in areas where malaria is a public health risk.

“As a malaria researcher, I used to dream of the day we would have a safe and effective vaccine against malaria. Now we have two,” said Dr Ghebreyesus. “Demand for the RTS,S vaccine far exceeds supply, so this second vaccine is a vital additional tool to protect more children faster, and to bring us closer to our vision of a malaria-free future.”

The WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, emphasised the importance of this recommendation for the continent, saying: “This second vaccine holds real potential to close the huge demand-and-supply gap. Delivered to scale and rolled out widely, the two vaccines can help bolster malaria prevention and control efforts and save hundreds of thousands of young lives in Africa from this deadly disease.”

At least 28 countries in Africa plan to introduce a WHO-recommended malaria vaccine as part of their national immunisation programmes.

Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance has approved providing technical and financial support to roll out malaria vaccines to 18 countries.

WHO also noted that the RTS,S vaccine will be rolled out in some African countries in early 2024, and the R21 malaria vaccine is expected to become available to countries in mid-2024.

According to Moeti, Nigeria has seen major progress but accounts for around 27 per cent of the global burden of malaria cases.

Moeti noted that Nigeria’s malaria incidence has fallen by 26 per cent since 2000, from 413 per 1000 to 302 per 1000 in 2021, and malaria deaths also fell by 55 per cent, from 2.1 per 1000 population to 0.9 per 1000 population.

“Drivers of this continuing disease burden include the size of Nigeria’s population, making scaling up intervention challenging; suboptimal surveillance systems, which pick up less than 40 per cent of the country’s malaria data; inadequate funding to ensure universal interventions across all states; and health-seeking behaviour, where people use the private sector, with limited regulation, preferentially,” she stated.

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FG Clarifies Renaming of Murtala Muhammed Expressway

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Minister Of Information
– FG denies renaming Murtala Muhammed Expressway after Wole Soyinka
– New road inaugurated by President Tinubu named Arterial Road N20
– Murtala Muhammed Expressway remains unchanged

The Federal Government has dispelled rumors that the Murtala Muhammed Expressway in Abuja was renamed Wole Soyinka Way.

The government clarified that the renaming of the expressway was never considered by the current administration.

Instead, a new road was inaugurated by President Bola Tinubu on June 4, 2024, which was named Arterial Road N20.

This new road connects the Outer Northern Expressway to the Northern Parkway and was named after Prof. Wole Soyinka.

The confusion arose from a proposal by the FCT Minister, Nyesom Wike, during the inauguration, which was approved by President Tinubu. ”

The government emphasized that the Murtala Muhammed Expressway remains unchanged, honoring the legacy of the former Head of State, Gen. Murtala Ramat Muhammed.

Therefore, the Arterial Road N20 is named after Prof Soyinka.

The Murtala Muhammed Expressway remains unchanged, the government stressed.

 

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Rivers State on Edge as Youths Storm LG Headquarters Amid Tenure Crisis

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Rivers State Governor
– Tension rises in Rivers State as youths occupy LG headquarters
– LG chairmen refuse to vacate office despite expiration of tenure
– Police deploy security operatives to maintain peace

Tension mounted in Rivers State on Monday as youths occupied the Degema Local Government Area headquarters, demanding that the council chairmen vacate office.

The youths, who were seen singing war songs, barricaded the entrance and vowed to remain until Wednesday.

The crisis follows the expiration of the tenure of local government chairmen in the state, with the chairmen refusing to step down citing a new law passed by the state House of Assembly.

The law empowers them to extend their tenure by six months, a move opposed by Governor Siminalayi Fubara.

In a similar development, youths stormed the Asari-Toru Local Government Area headquarters, occupying the building and vowing to resist any attempt by the council chairman to remain in office.

The situation was tense but peaceful, with security operatives deployed to maintain order.

Meanwhile, the outgoing chairman of Eleme LGA, Obarilomate Ollor, warned those eager to throw him out of office not to come close to the council, threatening to unleash terror on such invaders. “Some people are ganging up, they want to use force to enter into the local government, If you go there against the law, what you will see you will not believe it.”

The police have urged everyone to maintain peace in the state, with the spokesperson, Grace Iringe-Koko, saying “Our men were on a show of strength this morning. We are still monitoring the situation.”

 

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