Preparing for Vaccine Decisions Takes Time

By: Dr. Ramadhani Abdallah Noor

I am a Tanzanian physician with public health training from the Harvard School of Public Health. My experience is in malaria vaccine research. Working with the African Malaria Network Trust, I have actively contributed to a number of malaria vaccine trials in Africa.

I am a member of a technical advisory group that brings on board different stakeholders for malaria vaccine development and deployment in the country. This committee works closely with the PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative on adoption of the Malaria Vaccine Decision-Making Framework, a tool that is necessary for timely introduction of a malaria vaccine into the existing malaria control tools matrix, once a vaccine becomes available.

In close collaboration with malaria control stakeholders in Tanzania and under the leadership of Dr. Salim Abdulla of the Ifakara Health Institute, we put together an annual Tanzania Malaria Control Forum, which began in 2010. This forum brings together experts from the scientific field, programs, services, academia, media, parliament, and the public to discuss comprehensive malaria control efforts, and to share results, challenges, and opportunities for individual malaria interventions and tools.

My advocacy on the need to prepare early for malaria vaccine decisions included presentations in 2011 to the Africa Caribbean Pacific – European Union Joint Parliamentary Assembly Committee on Social Affairs and Environment in Brussels; a Friends of the Global Fund meeting on vaccines in Paris; and the Parliamentary Forum for Eastern and Southern Africa in Lusaka, sponsored by the Roll Back Malaria Partnership.

My take-home messages are that:

  • Malaria vaccines are potential tools for control and eradication.
  • Progress has been made in malaria vaccine research;
  • We have hope for a first-generation vaccine.
  • Ensuring accessibility of a vaccine is nearly as challenging as developing the vaccine itself.
  • Timely introduction of malaria vaccines needs early country-level planning.

Dr. Ramadhani Abdallah Noor is a Tanzanian physician with African Malaria Network Trust.

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