It’s a common disease and I experience many,
many children die from malaria in my hand as a physician.
We have money to buy bed-nets. We have money to buy mosquito screens, and yet my son have
malaria. What about the little boy who lives in a village probably has no bug or bed net
and will probably take about 24 hours before getting to the nearest health facility. What
happens to such a child? We need to prevent the child from getting malaria in the first
place. The best news for malaria research and development
is that we are very close to get malaria vaccine. So we are almost at three years before getting
malaria vaccine. That is going to be available. Malaria vaccine can be accessible even in
remote areas for many, for all children in Africa. So it’s going to be the key to it
because children can be prevented at least from the severe form of the disease.
If we want to integrate a malaria vaccine into public health policy, we need to plan
for it now. We need to know what the challenges are. We need to know where we’re going to
get the money from. We need to know how feasible it would be to integrate malaria vaccine into
policy. One of the problems we’ve been facing at
MVI is how to help scientists that are well connected in our field in Africa, to help
them to convey a very important message of research to policy-makers. That’s something
that is extremely important and extremely difficult to do.
So if you wait until the vaccine is on the market, it is going to take another five to
ten years to prepare. By this time more children will have died. It will be very sad to realize
there is a vaccine that probably would have saved those lives.
We need to start engaging the media, engaging policy-makers, engaging other sponsors.
The time is now. We have to start. So we need to make sure that all the people
who need to know, get to know. And we need to make sure that new money is found to add
to the complement of resources that we have. The malaria vaccine fellowship programs is
all about creating chaplains for vaccine and for vaccine research. During the training,
fellows are interacting with policy-makers, journalists, with specialists in communication
to learn precise, concise, simple communications. My whole aim is to get the health of people
improved. I don’t think it’s good enough to get some data, which may be good, and keep
it on the shelf. I see my job as helping to bridge the gap
between research and policy. So that whatever research results we find should be able to
help shape policy and practice. And help countries to make sure that as soon
as the vaccine is available, countries will hit the ground running.
Bridging the gap between researchers and the media and policy makers that is going to lead
to superior vaccine that is going to save lives. Twenty-four of those fellows have been
trained already. And they are now known and able to convey a crisp and neat message on
research. I’m really grateful for the opportunity
to be a fellow for this advocacy program, and I think that what I’ve learnt I would
put it into practice and get things moving and get things changing. We have so many tools
that should be made available to the people who really need it.