New Delhi: Three African countries – Ghana, Kenya and Malawi – will receive the first ever malaria vaccine starting in 2018, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Monday.
Ghana, Kenya and Malawi were chosen because they already run large programmes to tackle malaria, including the use of bed nets, yet still have high numbers of cases.
The RTS,S vaccine trains the immune system to attack the malaria parasite, which is spread by mosquito bites, the BBC quoted the WHO as saying.
“Combined with existing malaria interventions, such a vaccine would have the potential to save tens of thousands of lives in Africa,” Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO regional director for Africa, said in a statement.
The vaccine, which has partial effectiveness, has the potential to save tens of thousands of lives if used with existing measures, the WHO regional director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, said in a statement.
The vaccine needs to be given four times – once a month for three months and then a fourth dose 18 months later.
This has been achieved in tightly controlled and well-funded clinical trials, but it is not yet clear if it can be done in areas where access to health care is limited, the WHO said.
It is why the UN organistaion is running pilots in three countries to see if a full malaria vaccine programme could be started.
It will also continue to assess the safety and effectiveness of the vaccination, reports the BBC.
According to WHO figures, there are still 212 million new cases of malaria each year and 429,000 deaths despite huge progress.
Malaria remains one of the world’s most stubborn health challenges, infecting more than 200 million people every year and killing about half a million, most of them children in Africa.
With about 90 percent of the world’s cases in 2015, sub-Saharan Africa is hardest hit by the disease.
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