The African Media and Malaria Research Network (AMMREN) has commended the World Health Organisation (WHO) for the choice of three African countries of Ghana, Kenya and Malawi, for the first malaria vaccine trials beginning in 2018, reports NaijaAgroNet.
According to the WHO, the injectable vaccine RTS,S was developed to protect young children from the most deadly form of malaria caused by Plasmodium falciparum and it will be assessed in the pilot programme as a complementary malaria control tool that could potentially be added to the core package of WHO-recommended measures for malaria prevention.
Welcoming this development, AMMREN Executive Secretary, Dr. Charity Binka told NaijaAgroNet that they see the introduction of the vaccine in these countries as an opportunity to step up advocacy directed to whipping up public support for the malaria elimination agenda and specifically for the vaccine.
AMMREN, she said, also called for the training and equipping of journalists to promote accurate and effective dissemination of information on the vaccine and other tools to ensure that media content on the vaccine is well packaged and disseminated in a timely and accurate manner, nationally and globally.
In addition, she said building of the capacity of scientists and researchers to communicate effectively with journalists from data generated from malaria research, tools and the vaccine, cannot be over-emphasised.
The network said that by facilitating widespread awareness of the RTS,S vaccine, particularly among families and community members would foster accurate understanding of the potential risks and benefits of the RTS,S malaria vaccine and need for continued use of other malaria control measures.
NaijaAgroNet recalls that AMMREN has over the years, laid a solid foundation for African journalists to partner with scientists and stakeholders in the fight to kick out malaria from the continent.
Thus, the skills of journalists across Africa have also been sharpened to tell the malaria story as well as the RTS,S malaria vaccine stories.
AMMREN further urged all stakeholders to join forces to carry out a sustained media advocacy project on the malaria elimination and to push for public acceptance of the RTS,S vaccine.
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