Friday, September 20, 2013

Equatorial Guinea to Launch Malaria Vaccine Trial

West African Nation Leads Fight Against Malaria

 Equatorial Guinea’s Ministry of Health and Social Security recently presented a design for a malaria vaccine trial as part of the government’s efforts to improve the country’s public health.

The West African Nation is the second country in Africa, after Tanzania, to sponsor a malaria vaccine clinical trial. Equatorial Guinea’s Ministry of Health and Social Security and the Ministry of Mines, Industry and Energy partnered with Sanaria, a U.S. biotechnology company that produces a vaccine based on an approach to immunization that has already proven highly protective in humans, and the Ifakara Health Institute (IHI), Tanzania’s health research organization. This first clinical trial will evaluate both the safety and efficacy of the vaccine.

During the clinical trial’s presentation, Minister of Health and Social Security, Diosdado Vicente Nsue Milang, expressed the government’s support and appreciation of the parties involved.

“Malaria is a global concern,” he said, “and although the situation has improved in many countries, it is still the most common cause of mortality in pregnant women and children under five years.”
Dr. Pither, Sanaria representative, and Salim Abdulla, Ifakara representative, explained how the malaria vaccine works and how it is developed. The trial admission is scheduled for the first quarter of 2014. Sanaria and the IHI expect that the clinical trials in Equatorial Guinea will show that the vaccine is safe and effective, and that it can provide protection to African populations where the disease is endemic.

The ultimate goal is to develop a vaccine that can be part of large campaigns aimed at eliminating the disease. The clinical trials in Equatorial Guinea could help achieve this goal and significantly advance the global fight against malaria.

Equatorial Guinea’s Ethics Review Committee is overseeing the protocol to ensure that the clinical trial follows Equatorial Guinea’s standards. After these reviews and the approval of the protocol, the committee members will participate in the African Forum on the Regulation of Vaccines to present the results to the other sixteen countries represented in this forum, which will review the protocol with Equatorial Guinea on October 15, 2014.

Equatorial Guinea’s Ministries of Health and Social Welfare, and Mines, Industry and Energy are sponsoring this clinical trial, along with Marathon Oil, Noble Energy, EGLNG and AMPCO.

The director of the National Program for the Fight Against Malaria,  Matilde Roca, and representatives of various international organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO), the Cuban Office of International Cooperation,  and Marathon Oil, among others.

The government's national malaria program includes free treatment for patients who test positive for malaria infection, with special attention paid to pregnant women, who  face higher risk.

President Obiang Nguema Mbasogo has confirmed his support for shared responsibility and global solidarity in the fight against AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria at the session on Sustainable Solutions for the AIDS Response in Africa during the 67th United Nations General Assembly in 2012.

“I can assure you that my country, Equatorial Guinea, is steadfast in its support for the statement made by the Heads of State and Government of the 29th African Union Ordinary Assembly Session in Addis Ababa in July 2012 in favor of a roadmap for shared responsibility and global solidarity in the fight against AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria,” he said.

Roll Back Malaria has reported that Equatorial Guinea has decreased the prevalence of the malaria parasite in children by 57% in the last few years and has increased the number of bed nets and indoor spraying of insecticides from 4% to 95% of the country in that same period. Research carried out on the Island of Bioko by the government and Marathon Oil has shown reduced infant mortality in nearly one-third of the population. 

Another Roll Back Malaria report on Business Investing in Malaria Control: Economic Returns and a Healthy Workforce for Africa has shown how malaria control investment has significantly improved in Africa. “Companies in Equatorial Guinea, Ghana, Mozambique, and Zambia have worked to prevent malaria among their workers and workers' dependents and have seen an excellent return on investment, with significant reductions in malaria-related illnesses and deaths, worker absenteeism, and malaria related spending,” the report said.