Africa Prepares to Roll Out World’s First Ever Malaria Vaccine

July 22, 2022

By Raisa Okwaras

A child dies of Malaria in Africa with every minute that passes. However, the World Health Organisation announced that measures are ongoing to roll out the world’s first ever Malaria vaccine in Africa, with the mass rollout being funded by Gavi.

Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, is funding about US$160 million to improve access to the RTS,S Malaria vaccine to children in Africa that are at a higher risk of disease and death from Malaria. This rollout will begin with Kenya, Ghana, and Malawi- the three countries in Africa that formed part of the pilot project of the same in 2019 before spreading to other endemic African countries.

The RTS,S malaria vaccine has been proven to specifically work against the Plasmodium falciparum parasite. It is the deadliest Malaria parasite and happens to be the most prevalent one in Sub-Saharan Africa.

According to surveys and reports, Malaria is a primary cause of illnesses and deaths in children in sub-Saharan Africa. For instance, in 2021, about 500,000 children in Africa died from Malaria, making it one child dying of malaria in Africa every minute.

The Malaria vaccine has had a warm reception and acceptance since its introduction in 2019. It registered a high demand with the first dose realizing between seventy-three to over ninety percent coverage depending on the country. There were also no major distractions even at the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic since approximately 1.3 million African children have benefited from the introduction of the vaccine in the 3 pilot countries in Africa.

Gavi’s new funding opportunity brings us one step closer to reaching millions more children across Africa with the life-saving RTS,S Malaria vaccine. Throughout the pandemic, when routine health services faced myriad challenges, parents, and caregivers diligently brought their children to clinics and health posts to get the Malaria vaccine. They know all too well that lives are being lost to Malaria every day and are eager to protect their children from this deadly disease,” said WHO Regional Director for Africa Dr. Matshidiso Moeti.

Countries are encouraged to apply for the funding, with the three pilot countries given priority. Their first application deadline is set as September 2022. The second window for other prevalent countries will close in January 2023.

Source; WHO.

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