Malaria Vaccine Technical Assistance Program

In Sub-Saharan Africa, the devastation caused by malaria is unmatched, especially among children. The World Health Organization (WHO) highlights the disproportionate burden this region faces: a staggering 94% of malaria cases globally (233 million) and 95% of related deaths (580,000) reported in 2022 alone. Eighty percent of these fatalities are children under the age of five.¹

The introduction of the WHO-approved malaria vaccine heralded a new dawn in the battle against this endemic menace. Yet, the deployment of this life-saving intervention is riddled with challenges, from accessibility hurdles to integration with existing health systems.

Each year, an estimated 20 million infants do not receive the full course of routine immunizations. Of these, more than 14 million do not receive any vaccine through government immunization programs—these children are referred to as the “zero-dose” children.²

Many of these children living in malaria-endemic countries stand to benefit the most from new approaches to bringing vaccines to the last mile—especially a new vaccine for malaria.

In early 2024, Dalberg, in collaboration with Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, embarked on a journey to address these challenges through the Malaria Vaccine Technical Assistance Program. This initiative is not merely about vaccine distribution; it constitutes a comprehensive strategy to integrate the vaccine into national health systems, ensuring its reach to the most vulnerable populations. Dalberg is working with multiple countries over the next three years to create tailored approaches to rolling out the new malaria vaccine. Central to the program’s success is meticulous planning and execution of vaccination strategies, bolstered by robust social mobilization and strong monitoring mechanisms. Dalberg’s wealth of experience in government implementation units has enabled the firm to devise tailored delivery approaches, ranging from establishing robust governance structures to garnering stakeholder buy-in and implementing performance management frameworks.

The program’s impact is already tangible. In Cameroon, the successful launch of the malaria vaccine in 42 health districts has laid the groundwork for scaling up to the remaining 74 health districts. Based on what was learned, Dalberg is currently helping to ensure enhanced uptake and efficacy through improved program design.

In just a few months, the collaboration between Dalberg and Gavi has already illuminated two critical insights. First, the importance of a nuanced, country-specific approach to health intervention deployment cannot be overstated. Each nation’s distinct health system necessitates a bespoke strategy, blending global best practices with local realities. Second, synergy between various health programs under a unified strategy is crucial. The initiative underscores the value of harmonizing efforts across immunization and malaria control programs, thereby enhancing the efficacy and reach of this vaccine introduction. Moreover, it strengthens the concept of promoting comprehensive healthcare delivery at the community level—encompassing maternal and child health, immunization, and nutrition as an integrated package of services—as a crucial catalyst for enhancing uptake and accessibility.

Dalberg’s role with the Malaria Vaccine Technical Assistance Program transcended that of a traditional consultancy; it evolved to orchestrating a cohesive strategy that bridges the gap between global health goals and local implementation realities to ensure impact at scale.

The Gavi-Dalberg partnership stands as a testament to the power of collaborative innovation in confronting public health challenges, particularly the crucial issue of new vaccine integration into routine immunization. Ultimately, the collaboration yields valuable insights that will facilitate the introduction of future vaccines, such as the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine. Already, through strategic foresight, operational excellence, and a commitment to impactful outcomes, this partnership has established the foundation for a future where the threat of malaria can be greatly reduced.

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