The Clinton Global Initiative provides an opportunity for leaders to demonstrate their commitments to improving people's lives. While the commitment proposed by the PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative (MVI) is modest, it is a critical element in the process of ensuring that malaria vaccines, once developed, are put into use as rapidly as possible. This is important given that more than one million people die annually from malaria, almost all of them young children in sub-Saharan Africa.
The commitment described here stems from PATH's previous work with stakeholders in malaria-endemic countries in Africa to identify the kind of information and process they need to make an informed decision about whether or not to use a malaria vaccine. This so-called 'decision-making framework' process gave rise to a number of follow-on activities. Proposed support for the establishment of Technical Advisory Groups (TAGs) - initially in seven malaria-endemic countries - would help respond to a need expressed by countries themselves and would be an important step in DMF implementation.
To ensure that national structures are in place and functioning to gather and analyze the necessary data to support informed decision-making by malaria-endemic countries regarding use of malaria vaccines, PATH commits to:
1. Support the establishment of national TAGs on malaria vaccines under their respective ministries of health.
2. Promote through the TAGs regular consultation among researchers, policymakers, and other stakeholders.
3. Ensure national ownership of structures that will provide input to governments' malaria-vaccine related activities.
The development of a malaria vaccine has been hampered by the lack of a market in industrialized countries. For the past eight years, MVI has entered into partnership with private concerns, universities, and US government entities to stimulate the development of candidate vaccines. One of them, RTS,S, will enter Phase 3 clinical trials in Africa in 2008.
The introduction of available and needed vaccines in Africa often takes many years, even decades, creating a costly gap between the time when a vaccine is proved effective in clinical studies and when it becomes efficacious under real life conditions.
Ensuring that the proper data and information are available early enough for informed decision-making is critical to giving access to a life-saving health intervention to the children who need it the most in Africa as rapidly as possible.
MEASURES OF SUCCESS
2008-2009: TAGs - Mechanisms of regular consultation between researchers, national authorities, and stakeholders - established and functioning in all seven countries in which clinical trials of a first-generation malaria vaccine are taking place.
2008-2009: At least one meeting per year organized by TAGs in each country where one has been established.
MVI will provide support to national TAGs or similar coordination on malaria vaccines under the ministry of health. In each country, MVI will:
- Work (mainly remotely) with the ministries of health, local scientists, malaria specialists, WHO, and partner staff to share information on status of malaria vaccine development.
- Collaborate with the ministries of health in defining terms of reference and method for establishing TAG.
- Make a small grant for annual TAG operations to the ministries of health or other body (chair-person; local costs for one-to-two meetings per year, increasing in pace with changes in vaccine development activities; part-time focal point for meeting organization, and distributing meeting minutes).
Anticipated Launch: February 1, 2008
First Milestones: TAGs in place in seven malaria-endemic countries in which Phase 3 trials of a first-generation malaria vaccine are taking place.
Support the establishment of national TAGs on malaria vaccines under their respective ministries of health.
Participants in this Activity: MVI staff, ministries of health, local scientists, malaria specialists, WHO, and partner staff
The program seeks to involve local authorities and generate a sense of ownership around the data-gathering and consultations that will guide introduction of a malaria vaccine. Ministries of health, malaria specialists, and other scientists are key to the success of this effort. PATH hopes that ministries of health will contribute any additional resources needed for the successful operation of the TAGs and, over time, assume full responsibility for their support.