World Health organisation has endorsed a malaria vaccine produced by African scientists in Africa, with Sub-Saharan Africa expected to benefit the most from it.
After a two-year pilot phase involving more than 800,000 people, to roll out the vaccine in Ghana, Kenya and Malawi, the global health body finally approved the vaccine in a programme held on Wednesday, the 6th of October.
“WHO has said consistently that we need new tools to get malaria control back on track. Two years ago, WHO and our partners began a pilot programme to roll out this vaccine in Ghana, Kenya and Malawi,” Dr. Tedros Gebreyessus, the Director General of the WHO said.
He said the vaccine can be delivered through child health clinics by Ministries of Health, and can reach children at high coverage levels. He added that the community demand for the vaccine is quite high. Dr. Gebreyessus also revealed that the vaccine also has a broad reach to children, including the most vulnerable who may not have access to bed nets.
The vaccine which was produced by GlaxoSmithKline has also been found to significantly reduce life-threatening malaria, according to the WHO. It is also cost-effective but this may not be known until the prices are revealed, as Sub-Saharan Africa is a region with a high population of poor people.
“This is a powerful new tool, but like COVID19 vaccines, it’s not the only tool. Vaccination against malaria does not replace or reduce the need for other measures, including bednets, or seeking care for fever”
“I thank the children, families and communities who have participated in this historic pilot programme. I thank the Ministries of Health in Ghana, Kenya and Malawi for their leadership in embarking on these pilot programmes, which have continued despite COVID19.”
“I thank the researchers in Africa who generated the data and insights that informed this decision – this is a vaccine developed in Africa, by African scientists”
“I thank GlaxoSmithKline & many research partners for creating the malaria vaccine , & for bringing it from discovery through development, with support from the Gates Foundation.”
Dr. Genreyessus said “malaria has been with us for millennia, and the dream of a malaria vaccine has been a long-held but unattainable dream.
“Today, the RTS,S malaria vaccine – more than 30 years in the making – changes the course of public health history”
Malaria kills at least 400 thousand people and affects at least 200 million people in the world every year.
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