Advocating for Malaria Control and Eradication

Work with the PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative

The Challenge

Malaria kills nearly 500,000 people every year. In order to control and eventually eradicate this disease once and for all, vaccines will be needed in the world’s arsenal of malaria weapons. While we are closer than ever before to having the world’s first vaccine for malaria, ensuring that a vaccine gets to those who need it most means that policymakers at national, regional and international levels must have the information they need to make timely and informed decisions once a vaccine is available.

Our Approach

Burness, the PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative (MVI) and the ExxonMobil Foundation’s Africa Health Initiative have partnered since 2006 to provide African leaders in the field of malaria research and programming with communications and advocacy trainings, known as Malaria Vaccine Advocacy Fellowship workshops. The goal: to strengthen the capacity of these fellows to bridge between and among the worlds of science, policy and the interested public.

Under our expert training, the fellows, who represent NGOs, academia and government in countries across the continent, hone their communication and advocacy skills, learn how the media works, and are introduced to the policymaking process. In small group settings, over the course of several days, the fellows learn how to apply their research and clinical expertise to public discourse by interacting with journalists and policy experts. Since 2006, we’ve worked with more than 70 fellows at workshops across Africa—from Maputo, Mozambique, to Accra, Ghana, to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and to Mombasa and Nairobi, Kenya.

Results and Impact

Malaria Vaccine Advocacy Fellows have “graduated” to become expert scientist-advocates who regularly influence the discussion around malaria vaccines. In 2013, Principal Investigator Dr. Lucas Otieno, of the KEMRI/Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, presented results of the RTS,S malaria vaccine candidate at the Multilateral Initiative on Malaria Pan-African Malaria Conference in Durban, South Africa and won an award for one of the strongest presentations. He was also interviewed by news outlets around the world, including by the Guardian (UK) and Sky News TV. Dr. Otieno also spoke on Capitol Hill on World Malaria Day about the need for a vaccine and wrote an accompanying op-ed published by allAfrica. In 2012, Charles Wanga, of Jhpiego in Tanzania, spoke about the importance of malaria R&D to the UK Parliament, and in 2011, was published by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Impatient Optimists blog. Other fellows are continuing to communicate on malaria vaccines in writing, in meetings with policymakers, and as expert sources for reporters, from Washington, DC, to London, to Nairobi, and everywhere in between. With their voices, we anticipate robust, evidence-based decision-making that will ensure that a malaria vaccine reaches those who need it most.