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18 million doses of first-ever malaria vaccine allocated to 12 African countries for 2023–2025: Gavi, WHO and UNICEF

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THE allocations have been determined through the application of the principles outlined in the Framework for allocation of limited malaria vaccine supply that prioritizes those doses to areas of highest need, where the risk of malaria illness and death among children are highest.

Since 2019, Ghana, Kenya and Malawi have been delivering the malaria vaccine through the Malaria Vaccine Implementation Programme (MVIP), coordinated by WHO and funded by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and Unitaid. The RTS,S/AS01 vaccine has been administered to more than 1.7 million children in Ghana, Kenya and Malawi since 2019 and has been shown to be safe and effective, resulting in a substantial reduction in severe malaria and a fall in child deaths. At least 28 African countries have expressed interest in receiving the malaria vaccine.

In addition to Ghana, Kenya and Malawi, the initial 18 million dose allocation will enable nine more countries, including Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Liberia, Niger, Sierra Leone and Uganda, to introduce the vaccine into their routine immunisation programmes for the first time. This allocation round makes use of the supply of vaccine doses available to Gavi, Vaccine Alliance via UNICEF. The first doses of the vaccine are expected to arrive in countries during the last quarter of 2023, with countries starting to roll them out by early 2024.

“This vaccine has the potential to be very impactful in the fight against malaria, and when broadly deployed alongside other interventions, it can prevent tens of thousands of future deaths every year,” said Thabani Maphosa, Managing Director of Country Programmes Delivery at Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. “While we work with manufacturers to help ramp up supply, we need to make sure the doses that we do have are used as effectively as possible, which means applying all the learnings from our pilot programmes as we broaden out to a new total of 12 countries.”

Malaria remains one of Africa’s deadliest diseases, killing nearly half a million children each year under the age of 5, and accounting for approximately 95% of global malaria cases and 96% of deaths in 2021.

“Nearly every minute, a child under 5 years old dies of malaria,” said UNICEF Associate Director of Immunization Ephrem T Lemango. “For a long time, these deaths have been preventable and treatable; but the roll-out of this vaccine will give children, especially in Africa, an even better chance at surviving. As supply increases, we hope even more children can benefit from this life-saving advancement.”

“The malaria vaccine is a breakthrough to improve child health and child survival; and families and communities, rightly, want this vaccine for their children. This first allocation of malaria vaccine doses is prioritised for children at highest risk of dying of malaria,” said Dr Kate O’Brien, WHO Director of Immunization, Vaccines and Biologicals. “The high demand for the vaccine and the strong reach of childhood immunisation will increase equity in access to malaria prevention and save many young lives. We will work tirelessly to increase supply until all children at risk have access.”

Given the limited supply in the first years of the roll-out of this new vaccine, in 2022 WHO convened expert advisors, primarily from Africa – where the burden of malaria is greatest – to support the development of a Framework for allocation of limited malaria vaccine supply, to guide where initial limited doses would be allocated. The Framework is based on ethical principles on a foundation of solidarity; and it proposes that vaccine allocation begin in areas of greatest need.

The Framework implementation group that applied the framework principles included representatives of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), UNICEF, WHO and the Gavi Secretariat, as well as representatives of civil society and independent advisors. The group’s recommendations were reviewed and endorsed by the Senior Leadership Endorsement Group of Gavi, WHO and UNICEF (for more, see First malaria vaccine supply allocations: explanation of process and outcomes).

Annual global demand for malaria vaccines is estimated at 40–60 million doses by 2026 alone, growing to 80–100 million doses each year by 2030. In addition to the RTS,S/AS01 vaccine, developed and produced by GSK, and in the future supplied by Bharat Biotech, it is expected that a second vaccine, R21/Matrix-M, developed by Oxford University and manufactured by Serum Institute of India (SII), could also be prequalified by WHO soon. Gavi has recently outlined its roadmap to support increasing supply to meet demand.

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Reps dismiss petition against NPA over alleged bad debt

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The House of Representatives has dismissed a petition accusing the Managing Director of the Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA), Mr Bello Koko of recording a bad debt of N178 billion in the audited financial statement of the authority in 2019.
A group, the  Forum of Non-Governmental Organisations in Nigeria, had petitioned the House Committee on Public Petitions on the alleged bad debt.

However, at the resumed public hearing of the committee on Wednesday, the group failed to appear to defend the allegation.

The Chairman of the Committee,  Rep Mike Etaba (APC -Cross River) dismissed the petition for lack of merit.

“This is the sixth time and the petitioner has not been in this place. The case is hereby dismissed,” Etaba said.

NAN reports that the petitioner had requested the management of NPA to be invited to address the growth of the alleged debt from N135 billion in 2018 to N173 billion in 2024.

The petition in part reads that, ” Our attention has been brought to the 2019 audited financial statement  of Nigeria Port Authority ( NPA) with special reference to Trade Accounts Receivable and the huge provision made for bad and doubt debts.

“Whilst we note that the position in 2019 would significantly changed by now, the poor quality of NPA’s trade receivable account is alarming and require urgent attention.”

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NIES: NLNG tasks energy industry players on enhanced digitalisation

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The Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas Limited (NLNG) has tasked the energy industry players on integration of digital technologies to improve operational efficiency, reduce emissions and increase revenue.

NLNG’s Deputy Managing Director, Mr Olakunle Osobu, made the call at the ongoing 7th Nigeria International Energy Summit (NIES) in Abuja.

Osobu spoke on “Digital Transformation and Sustainable Energy Solutions in Upstream and Downstream Sector”.

The session dwelt on innovative ideas, technological advancements and career opportunities for young professionals in the evolving energy landscape.

It delved into transformative journey of the upstream sector digitalisation improvement of refining and distribution processes, implementation of energy efficient technologies and collaboration.

He emphasised the pivotal role of digital technologies and data analytics in enhancing efficiency, productivity, safety standards, and environmental sustainability across the energy value chain.

According to him, the industry has to remain competitive as it deals with rapid global changes and energy transition.

Highlighting the significance of nurturing young talent and embracing digital tools, Osobu underscored their criticality in streamlining processes, fostering innovation, and addressing sustainability challenges within the evolving energy landscape.

He stated that leveraging digital solutions could enable the industry to unlock unprecedented career opportunities while tackling resilience and sustainability imperatives.

Osobu, while urging the players to draw insights from NLNG’s ongoing integration of digital technologies, lauded its pioneering role in leveraging digital technology within the LNG sector.

He cited examples such as the Smart Mobile Worker programme, which utilises smart helmets and tablets for remote support, enabling swift repairs, reducing mobilisation costs, and enhancing safety protocols.

He also highlighted NLNG’s digital twin technology that replicates plant operations using real-time data for remote planning and improved safety measures without necessitating physical site visits.

 

These initiatives, he said, collectively bolster NLNG’s competitive edge by enhancing operational efficiency, environmental stewardship, workforce safety, and financial performance.

He reiterated NLNG’s commitment to achieving its net-zero emissions target by 2040 through strategic deployment of digital solutions.

He underscored the importance of upskilling employees to leverage AI, machine learning and other digital tools while enhancing cyber security awareness to mitigate evolving cyber threats stemming from increased digitalisation.

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Lagos State rolls out modalities for staff to work remotely

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Lagos State Government on Wednesday said that the flexible work initiative announced by Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu to give workers relief in the face of economic hardship would take effect from March 4.

This is indicated in a circular by the state Head of Service, Mr Bode Agoro issued on Wednesday.

It said that the initiative would last for three months in the first instance, after which a review of the exercise would be undertaken.

_Flexible work initiative will commence effective March 4 for three months in the first instance, after which a review of success and impact will be carried out,” it said.

The Head of Service said in the circular that drivers, teaching staff, healthcare officers as well as first responders in the state were exempted from home initiative,

“ The governor in providing succour and palliative to the workers in the state, has directed Accounting Officers to come up with a duty roster for officers on Grade Level 15-17 to work from home one day a week.

“Other officers on grade level 01-14 will work from home two days in a week respectively to cushion the effect of fuel subsidy removal.

“ Suffice to say due to the peculiarities of their work schedules, Drivers, Teaching Staff, Healthcare Officers as well as first responders in the state are exempted from home initiative,” Agoro said.

He said there would be call duty arrangements roster or shift.

Recall that Gov. Sanwo-Olu had announced the introduction of the arrangement on Thursday, while unveiling measures the state was putting in place to reduce the economic pressure being faced by citizens in the country.

He also announced several other measures to reduce the hardship the residents were facing.

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