June 13, 2024


“I believe it is possible to end malaria in our lifetime”.

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Good News in the Battle Against Malaria

Good News in the Battle Against Malaria

Photo courtesy of The World Health Organisation

The end of malaria in our lifetime? Encouraging news on several fronts in the battle against the scourge of malaria.

A report by the US President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) shows that the number of children aged under five dying of malaria has fallen three-fold since 2003.

The PMI is a US Government initiative that aims to cut the incidence of malaria in 30 African countries, including Kenya.

Malaria in Africa and Kenya

Malaria is almost entirely confined to Africa. 95 percent cases and 97 percent of deaths occur in Africa with three quarters of those dying being children under the age of five.

According to the PMI report for 2024 the mortality rate from malaria in children aged under five in Kenya has decreased from 11.5 percent in 2003 to 4.1 percent in 2022. The PMI hopes to reduce malarial deaths to 21 per 1,000 births by 2030.

The PMI works with partner African countries to increasing proven interventions building on local capacity and health systems whilst also investing in research to reduce deaths from malaria.

$530 million invested in Kenya

The fall in deaths from malaria in Kenya says the report is the result of reductions of mortality in ‘high-burden’, lake endemic districts where the PMI has concentrated more than 70 percent of its resources.

Kenya, a priority country in the PMI initiatives, has seen an investment of over $530 million (Sh68.53 billion) since 2006.

The reduction in malaria deaths in Kenya can be attributed in large measure to the increased access to insecticide-treated bed nets for children under five together with indoor residual spraying, rapid diagnostic tests, and the use of artemisinin-based combination therapies.

Derived from the plant Artemisia annua, or sweet wormwood, artemisinin and its derivatives are powerful medicines known for their ability to swiftly reduce the number of Plasmodium parasites in the blood of patients with malaria.

The “end of malaria in our lifetime”

David Walton, US Global Malaria coordinator said, “PMI is continuing to find new ways to drive toward our objectives to reduce malaria cases and deaths outlined in PMI’s Strategy 2021-2026. We are tailoring programs to meet the needs of each country and support local leadership to end malaria faster. Given what I see accomplished every day through PMI’s programs in Africa and Asia, I believe it is possible to end malaria in our lifetime. With US leadership and robust global commitment, we can turn the vision of a malaria-free world a reality.”

New vaccines against malaria

Meanwhile The Economist magazine reports that two new vaccines ‘give hope’ in combating malaria deaths.

The first, RTS,S/AS01, has been given to nearly two million children in Kenya, Ghana and Malawi since 2019 and will now be used in seven other countries this year.

The second, R21/Matrix-M, is being made available in large volumes at less than half the price with the first deliveries taking place in May to the Central African Republic.

Neither RTS,S/AS01 or R21/Matrix-M provide total protection against malaria but the will have a bid impact. Charles Shey Wiysonge, an advisor to the World Health Organisation on immunization in Africa told The Economist that “For the first time we have a vaccine against a parasite.”


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