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Historic arrival of malaria vaccine signals progress against deadly disease in Africa says WHO



Historic arrival of malaria vaccine signals progress against deadly disease in Africa says WHO

In a groundbreaking development, shipments of the world’s first WHO-recommended malaria vaccine, RTS, S, have commenced, with 331,200 doses landing in Yaoundé, Cameroon. This marks a significant step towards expanding vaccination efforts against one of the deadliest diseases for African children.


Malaria’s impact is most severe in Africa, contributing to 95% of global malaria cases and 96% of related deaths in 2021. The arrival of these doses in Cameroon heralds the shift from the malaria vaccine’s pilot phase to broader implementation across high-risk areas on the continent.


In the coming weeks, an additional 1.7 million doses are set for delivery to Burkina Faso, Liberia, Niger, and Sierra Leone, emphasising the momentum towards wider vaccine distribution. These shipments lay the groundwork for countries to integrate malaria vaccination into routine immunization programmes by the first quarter of 2024.


While malaria vaccines are not a standalone solution, the potential to save thousands of lives each year is a promising outcome of these efforts. The comprehensive approach includes insecticide-treated nets, indoor residual spraying, preventive treatment, antimalarials, effective case management, and treatment. The success of the Malaria Vaccine Implementation Programme (MVIP) in Ghana, Kenya, and Malawi, with a remarkable 13% drop in all-cause mortality among vaccinated children, provides a glimpse of the positive impact of widespread vaccination.


The availability of two malaria vaccines, including R21 currently under WHO review, is expected to meet the high demand from African countries, offering life-saving protection to millions of children at risk of malaria. As these critical steps are taken to combat the disease, stakeholders and governments remain committed to strengthening non-vaccine interventions to maximize the impact of these life-saving measures.


The arrival of the malaria vaccine in new countries across Africa is viewed as a game-changer in the fight against malaria, providing hope and progress in the battle against this pervasive and deadly disease.

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