PRESS STATEMENT BY THE PHARMACEUTICAL SOCIETY OF GHANA ON THE MALARIA VACCINE IMPLEMENTATION PROGRAM
Tuesday, 7 May 2019
7 May 2019.
The Pharmaceutical Society of Ghana (PSGH) has noted with much concern some negative opinions expressed on the malaria vaccine implementation program initiated by the Ministry of Health (MOH) and the Ghana Health Service (GHS).
The PSGH appreciates the level of efforts that pharmaceutical companies commit and work tirelessly to develop vaccines and other medicinal products for tropical diseases especially for the neglected ones. The Society has over the years followed the processes for developing the Malaria vaccine and the phases of Clinical Trials it has gone through culminating in the regulatory approval and eventual authorization received for its roll out.
It is instructive to note that malaria kills one child every 30 seconds and about 3,000 children every day. Over a quarter of all young child deaths in Africa occur due to malaria. Of the 20,000 children who die from Malaria every year, 25 per cent are children under the age of five. Even for the children who survive malaria infections, the consequences from severe malaria such as convulsions or brain dysfunction can hamper long-term development and schooling. The economic burden of malaria on families and the health system especially the NHIS cannot be overemphasized. For example, it is estimated that, the annual economic burden of malaria is estimated at 1-2 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product in Ghana.
Over the years, there have been significant improvements in the prevention, treatment and cure for malaria infections globally. In spite of the significant progress which has been made through interventions like vector control using long-lasting insecticidal bed-nets, indoor residual spraying with insecticides, intermittent preventive treatment for pregnant women, prompt diagnostic testing, and treatment of confirmed cases with effective antimalarial medicines, malaria continues to infect and kill many people in Ghana.
It was therefore refreshing to us, when significant progress was made through the development of the malaria vaccine as it went through the clinical trial processes. We are of the belief that this additional intervention offers one of the single most important breakthroughs which has the potential to contribute to further reductions in malaria deaths and offer long term protection to children in Ghana. This will not only benefit the healthcare system but will contribute to the attainment of significant reduction in morbidity and mortality in children. Historically, vaccines have proven to be among the most effective means of preventing disease and saving lives, particularly in the case of infectious diseases and thus despite few historical issues related to vaccination, the importance of vaccination exercise is there for all to see.
Thus, having established that the vaccine is efficacious as an add-on intervention, the PSGH would like to urge the general public to take advantage of the vaccination exercise and speak to their healthcare professionals when in doubt.
Again, the PSGH would like to urge all Pharmacists especially those in the communities where this exercise is underway to appraise themselves of current information on the Mosquirix vaccine and look out for any side effects experienced by children receiving the malaria vaccines and in addition offer their support and advice appropriately. We further urge all Pharmacists and healthcare professionals to be on the lookout for possible adverse drug reactions and report accordingly to the FDA through its Pharmacovigilance program.
We hold that, as with any new vaccines and other new drugs in line with national regulations, Pharmacists will continue to support in the monitoring of the safety profile for Mosquirix to help achieve our collective objectives as friends of the human race.