The Republic of Côte d’Ivoire has received more than 650,000 doses of the malaria vaccine (R21/Matrix-M) to protect children under two years old. The country received 131,100 doses of the vaccine at the Felix Houphouët-Boigny International Airport in Abidjan on June 27, 2024. This delivery completes the 524,700 doses out of the 656,600 doses of vaccines expected by the country.

The Minister of Health, Public Hygiene, and Universal Health Coverage of Côte d’Ivoire, Pierre N’Gou DIMBA, received the R21/Matrix-M vaccine doses along with technical and financial partners such as GAVI, UNICEF, WHO, USAID, and CDC. These partners provided the funding for the purchase, transportation, and upcoming distribution of the vaccine.

Minister Pierre DIMBA expressed his pride and happiness in being one of the seven countries selected by GAVI to receive these anti-malarial vaccines. Malaria poses a significant burden on the country’s economy, accounting for about 30% of hospital and health center consultations. It is the leading cause of death in healthcare facilities, especially among children. The introduction of these vaccines will enhance the existing measures taken to reduce the impact of malaria in the population and work towards malaria elimination in Côte d’Ivoire.

Dr. Fatim TALL, the WHO Country Office Head in Côte d’Ivoire, commended the Ivorian authorities for accepting the recommendation to include the malaria vaccine in the routine immunization program. She emphasized the historical significance of this milestone in the country’s fight against malaria. The R21/Matrix-M vaccine has proven to be safe and effective in reducing severe malaria cases and mortality in children under two years old based on pilot phases in Ghana, Malawi, and Kenya.

The target recipients of the anti-malaria vaccine in Côte d’Ivoire are children aged 6 to twenty-three months. Each child will receive four doses at regular intervals (6 months, 8 months, 9 months, and 15 months) to complete the vaccination.

The vaccine deployment will occur in two phases. The first phase, scheduled to launch on July 15, 2024, will cover 38 health districts with the highest incidence rates. The extension will gradually include the remaining 75 health districts by the end of 2024.

Minister Pierre DIMBA thanked the partners for their continuous support, acknowledging that the Health Ministry alone cannot eliminate malaria in the country. He highlighted the collaboration with other sectors to implement sanitation measures in neighborhoods to combat vector proliferation and expressed confidence in the progress towards malaria elimination.

Malaria remains endemic in Côte d’Ivoire, especially during the rainy seasons. In 2023, there was a high incidence of new cases compared to the target population, with 233‰ in the general population and 709‰ among children under five years old. The national preventive strategies include the use of mosquito nets (MILDA), indoor spraying, larval control using drones, and chemoprophylaxis. The introduction of vaccination complements these prevention efforts.