Appropriate data and information are essential for countries to make evidence-based decisions on vaccine introduction. Countries bearing the burden of malaria weigh multiple factors to better understand a malaria vaccine’s potential impact at the country level and the vaccine’s possible role as part of a national package of malaria control measures.
When it comes to introducing a vaccine, early planning is imperative. Countries need adequate time and a defined process to gather the necessary data and information for informed decisions on whether and how to introduce a vaccine. Important data and information include the following:
- National malaria disease burden.
- The vaccine’s potential role in the context of current malaria control measures.
- The feasibility of implementing the vaccine.
- The likely cost-effectiveness and affordability of the vaccine.
- How the vaccine would be integrated into existing health services.
- Community perceptions of the vaccine.
Employing a step-wise process
In the case of the RTS,S malaria vaccine, some countries have employed a step-wise process to gather the required evidence for introduction decisions. Approaches that have worked in countries include:
- Convening independent technical working groups that involve stakeholders from malaria, immunization, finance, and other fields.
- Developing malaria vaccine decision-making tools.
- Compiling, reviewing, and analyzing the data and information.
- Developing technical briefs—independent reviews of the evidence—for submission to country decision-makers.
PATH has supported countries by generating and providing some of the data and evidence needed to help determine the optimal use of a malaria vaccine in the context of other malaria interventions. This has meant working with partners to generate and provide country-level decision-makers with clinical trial data, sociocultural data, public health impact estimates, and other health economic findings. PATH has also worked to strengthen country capacity by providing technical and some financial support for the compilation and review of technical data and information.