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The Kenya Forum | Groundbreaking Malaria Vaccine Approved By WHO - The Kenya Forum

October 7, 2021

Summary

The World Health Organization (WHO) is recommending widespread use of the injectable RTS, S/AS01 (RTS,S) malaria vaccine among children in sub-Saharan Africa and in other regions with moderate to high malaria transmission.

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Groundbreaking Malaria Vaccine Approved By WHO

Groundbreaking Malaria Vaccine Approved By WHO

The World Health Organization (WHO) is recommending widespread use of the injectable RTS, S/AS01 (RTS,S) malaria vaccine among children in sub-Saharan Africa and in other regions with moderate to high malaria transmission.

The recommendation is based on results from an ongoing pilot program in Ghana, Kenya and Malawi that has reached more than 800 000 children since 2019.

According to WHO Director, Dr Tedros Adhanom, using this vaccine on top of existing tools to prevent malaria could save tens of thousands of young lives each year.

“This is a historic moment. The long-awaited malaria vaccine for children is a breakthrough for science, child health and malaria control,” said WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

The malaria vaccine has been developed by British pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline in partnership with PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative.

Malaria remains a primary cause of childhood illness and death in sub-Saharan Africa. More than 260 000 African children under the age of five die from malaria annually.

For centuries, malaria has stalked sub-Saharan Africa, causing immense personal suffering,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa. “We have long hoped for an effective malaria vaccine and now for the first time ever, we have such a vaccine recommended for widespread use. Today’s recommendation offers a glimmer of hope for the continent which shoulders the heaviest burden of the disease and we expect many more African children to be protected from malaria and grow into healthy adults.

Malaria Vaccine Pilot Rolled Out in Kenya

In 2018, Kenya was among three countries selected by the World Health Organisation (WHO) for a pilot of the malaria vaccine in Africa. The injectable vaccine, known as RTS,S or Mosquirix, is the first of its kind to successfully move to the large scale testing stage.

The malaria vaccine has been getting administered in four doses; once a month for three months and the fourth dose 18 months later.

Malaria Burden in Kenya

Malaria continues to be a major cause of morbidity and mortality in Kenya with statics from the Ministry of health indicating that 70 percent of the population is at risk with children under five years and pregnant women being the most vulnerable.

Kenya was named among countries that accounted for 80 percent of the global malaria burden in 2016 according to the World Malaria Report 2017 WHO.

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