Alongside Liberia and Sierra Leone, Guinea was one of the three West African countries most affected by the Ebola outbreak of 2013 to 2016, which killed more than 11,000 people.
“We are proud that we have been able to contribute to developing a vaccine that will prevent other nations from enduring what we endured.” — Dr KeÏta Sakoba, Coordinator of the Ebola Response and Director of the National Agency for Health Security in Guinea.
Known as rVSV-ZEBOV – Vesicular Stomatitis Virus-Ebola Virus Vaccine – the vaccine was first developed by the Public Health Agency of Canada, an arm of the Canadian government.
This response must include training – and retaining – a skilled health workforce.
Liberia, for example, with a population of 4.1 million people, has less than 50 physicians, or just one doctor per 100,000 people, according to data compiled by Afri-dev.info.
By contrast, one of the main reasons Nigeria is considered to have been able to prevent the disease from spreading widely, is because of that countries relatively high number of skilled health workers.
The possibility of using rVSV-ZEBOV to stop future outbreaks is still some distance in the future. The vaccine is yet to be submitted for regulatory review – although it has been granted special status by US and European drug administrations which will allow it to pass through this process faster.
Should the vaccine pass the regulatory process it will then need to be widely administered – another challenge.
Many diseases which are vaccine curable, such as yellow fever and polio, have persisted for decades despite the availability of an affordable vaccine. According to MSF Access, governments and pharmaceutical companies could be doing much more to ensure that existing vaccines reach those most in need.
AllAfrica 23rd December 2016