MALARIA SCOURGE, in recent years, continues to claim more than 400,000 lives, every year, according to the World Health Organization, WHO. The scourge, the world body says, continues to strike hardest on pregnant women and children in Africa. WHO is leaving no stone unturned, towards malaria-free world. It is historic, therefore, that WHO has approved vaccine to tackle malaria scourge in Africa.
With the ground-breaking achievement, the approved RTS.S/ASO1 [RTS.S] Malaria Vaccine, will be widely deployed to be administered to children in sub-Saharan Africa’s vulnerable countries, and other regions with “moderate to high P.falciparum” malaria transmission.
WHO’s approval of the vaccine is based on the results from ongoing pilot programme in Ghana, Kenya and Malawi, which has touched the lives of more than 800,000 children since 2019. WHO says more than 260,000 African children under the age of five, especially in sub-Sharan Africa, die from malaria annually.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General, WHO, described the achievement as “a historic moment”. He said “the long-awaited malaria vaccine for children is a breakthrough for science, child health and malaria control”. And added that “using this vaccine on top of existing tools to prevent malaria could save tens of thousands of young lives each year”.
Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, while commenting on the malaria vaccine stride said: “For centuries, malaria has stalked sub-Saharan Africa, causing immense personal suffering.
“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”, Moeti added.
MALARIA’S DEADLY PARASITE, invades and destroys blood cells, in order to reproduce. It is spread by the bite of blood-sucking mosquitoes. No drugs, presently, kill the parasite, but are used for the treatment of malaria. Bed-nets to prevent mosquitoes bites, and insecticides to kill the mosquitoes have been helpful in reducing malaria scourge in Africa.
Nigeria, in April 15, 2021, launched the implementation of the “Global Fund 2021-2023 Malaria”, to support the elimination of the disease, and build resilient sustainable system for health across the country. Nigerian government said, this is an indication that the country is in the front-line on the fight against malaria scourge.
Osagie Ehanire, Nigeria’s Minister of Health, at the launch, said the grant will accelerate Nigeria’s progress towards reducing the malaria burden in the country, as well as strengthen the health system. He said, Nigeria, in the past few years, recorded reduction in malaria burden and deaths.
Ehanire said there is still much work to be done for Nigeria to achieve zero-burden status; as the country still has “high case burden”. He said “malaria remains a public health challenge”, even though, the country witnessed largest reduction in malaria death in 2019.