Kenya Rolls out Malaria Vaccine Campaign

Kenya Rolls out Malaria Vaccine Campaign (News Central TV)

Kenya launched a program this week to immunise more than 400,000 kids against the mosquito-borne illness with the world’s first malaria vaccine.

The widespread vaccination drive coincides with the discovery in Kenya of a new invasive type of mosquito that scientists worry could undo progress made in the fight against the illness.

More than 12,000 Kenyans per year, and more than half a million people throughout sub-Saharan Africa, according to health officials, die from malaria, most of them children.

Mother-of-two Diana Kavwai recalled the day in 2019 when her 1-year-old son fell ill. His fever was reduced by traditional treatments, according to Kavwai, but malaria ultimately took his life.

“His body was very hot and he was shaking,” she said. “When we went to the hospital, examination showed that he had malaria, but it was too late.”

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In particular during the rainy seasons, Kavwai said she thinks the current immunisation drive for kids under two will assist to protect them from the sickness.

Under a new project, Kenya’s government wants to immunise at least 300,000 kids annually against malaria, especially in the eight malaria-prone regions.

The vaccine, which was tested in 2019 in Ghana, Kenya, and Malawi, according to immunisation program director and pharmacist Lucy Mecca, has shown to be successful.

“The prevalence of malaria is going down nationally to about 6%; even in these lake-endemic zones, we can see that it has gone down from 27% to 19% and that the interventions that have been put in place for malaria are actually working,” Mecca said.

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The World Health Organisation warned of an increase in mosquito-borne illnesses in a report from 2022 because global warming is increasing vector survival and bite rates. Finding innovative strategies to fight the disease is essential, according to Adam Haji, the WHO technical officer for malaria vaccinations in Kenya.

WHO DG Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus 

”There is a need and there is a requirement for the world to have new tools in order to put us back on track and the malaria vaccine is one of these new tools,” Haji said.

Distribution of mosquito nets, spraying, and the reduction of possible breeding sites are examples of malaria interventions in Kenya. Health officials express hope that immunisation programs will contribute to the disease’s eradication.

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