The Ministry of Public Health (Minsanté) has confirmed the completion of its communication plan for the integration of the malaria vaccine into routine immunization. Following a workshop held from December 12 to 16 in Soa, a commune in the Méfou-et-Afamba department (Centre), the ministry has generated various deliverables, including an operational communication plan aimed at fostering community acceptance of the vaccine. Scheduled for introduction in the Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI) in January 2024, this initiative is part of the Cameroonian government's commitment to significantly reduce malaria-related morbidity and mortality, particularly among children under 5.
To facilitate the successful introduction of the vaccine, the Cameroonian government has sought the support of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. The country is optimistic that the inclusion of this serum in routine EPI will contribute to the control and eventual elimination of the disease. Recognizing the importance of effective communication in this endeavor, the Ministry of Public Health notes that public perceptions, as gleaned from social networks, highlight a need for reassurance regarding the reliability and availability of the vaccine.
Dr. Marthe Sylvie Essengue Elouma, Gavi's Regional Director for Central and West Africa, emphasized the crucial role of communication, revealing an allocation of around $800,000 (equivalent to over XAF479 million at the current US dollar rate) to support communication aspects and technical assistance. This funding will also ensure the creation of tools in local languages, tailored to the understanding of the population. The recent high-level mission to Cameroon by Gavi aimed to provide support for communication efforts, ensuring that the public receives accurate information about the RTS, S vaccine. This vaccine will be administered to children aged 6 months in four doses: at 6 months, 7 months, 9 months, and 24 months, targeting 42 priority health districts from the coming year.
Cameroon, identified as one of the 11 countries with the highest malaria mortality rates globally, faces significant health challenges, with pregnant women and children under 5 accounting for 64% of malaria-related deaths. The Minsanté underscores that the vaccine complements existing preventive measures against malaria, including chemoprevention, intermittent malaria treatment, and the distribution of impregnated mosquito nets. The materials developed during the workshop, including posters, banners, roll-ups, and audiovisual spots, were pre-tested with various stakeholders, such as women in the immunization department of the Soa district hospital, health staff, and community and religious leaders, allowing for necessary adjustments to enhance effectiveness.
Patricia Ngo Ngouem