Routine Malaria Vaccinations in Africa Commence

January 22, 2024

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

The routine malaria vaccinations in Africa have officially commenced, with Cameroon being the first country in the world to administer the vaccine to all eligible children who come into clinics.

Recall that the World Health Organisation (WHO) approved the use of the vaccine, RTS,S after undergoing various tests.

The vaccinations are being supervised on the continent by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance comments on this milestone, and are taking place across 42 health districts, chosen to give the most vulnerable children with the highest transmission and mortality rates in the country an opportunity to be protected from the devastating disease.

“Malaria claims too many lives each year, more than half a million children under 5 in Africa alone.

“Today represents a historic milestone as we will finally be able to offer a new tool in the fight against a disease that has impacted the African continent most of all, accounting for 95% of all deaths globally,” the Chief Programme Officer at Gavi, Aurélia Nguyen, said.

Cases of Malaria and deaths have been rising in Cameroon since 2017, and nearly 30 per cent of all hospital consultations are malaria-related.

Across the continent, around 20 countries have plans to introduce this year to reach a total of over 3 million children. Some have already received shipments of doses.

Introducing the vaccine in many countries in 2024 will depend on when the second WHO-prequalified malaria vaccine is available and the countries’ levels of preparedness.

Overall, more than 30 African countries have expressed interest in a routine malaria vaccination program.

Malaria vaccination has been a long time coming.

Nguyen said, “As an alliance, we have invested in studies and pilots, and sent powerful market signals to manufacturers, all to expedite this moment: approved vaccines available, and getting to those who need them most.”

“I will say: while Gavi is fully funded for its current strategic period, which ends in 2025, we must make sure financing is in place for our next 5-year period, from 2026-2030 – so that this vital work can continue in the future,” Nguyen added.

Business Post reports that the RTS,S malaria vaccine, also known as Mosquirix, was developed by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) in partnership with the PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative.

It is designed to target the Plasmodium falciparum parasite that causes malaria, which is spread by anopheles mosquitoes.

More than 331,000 doses of RTS,S malaria vaccine landed in Yaoundé on Tuesday, November 22, 2023. This was the first time doses were shipped to an African country outside of the three pilot countries (Kenya, Ghana, Malawi) that were part of the Malaria Vaccine Implementation Programme (MVIP), which ran from 2019 to 2023 and saw the RTS,S vaccine administered to more than 2 million children.

Modupe Gbadeyanka

Modupe Gbadeyanka is a fast-rising journalist with Business Post Nigeria. Her passion for journalism is amazing. She is willing to learn more with a view to becoming one of the best pen-pushers in Nigeria. Her role models are the duo of CNN's Richard Quest and Christiane Amanpour.

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