Mass Vaccination Program Targets Malaria In Africa

Malaria kills one African child nearly every minute. The disease spreads through contact with infected mosquitoes.

It’s hard to think such a little insect can be the continent’s worst killer. Initial signs of malaria include a high temperature, headache, and chills.

The majority of the fatal cases (95% annually) occur in Africa, and a significant portion of those deaths (about 80%) occur in children younger than five years old.

After forty years of development, there is hope. Introducing a new vaccine across the continent may provide extensive prevention of malaria infections. On Monday, Cameroon made history by launching the world’s first regular immunization program against the mosquito-borne disease. Over the next two years, Cameroon aims to vaccinate around 250,000 youngsters.

The RTS, S/AS01 vaccine, which goes under Mosquirix, was created by the Path Malaria Vaccine Initiative and the British pharmaceutical behemoth GlaxoSmithKline.

Following successful trials in Ghana and Kenya, it is now being implemented in 19 countries, including Cameroon, after being recommended for extensive usage by the World Health Organization in 2021.

All participating nations are expected to provide around 30 million vaccine doses in the following months.

According to the World Health Organization, nearly five million more cases of malaria were reported in 2022 than in the previous year. The parasite-carrying mosquitoes are becoming more resistant to pesticides, significantly contributing to the increase in infections. The COVID-19 epidemic has also disrupted healthcare and supply systems.

The World Health Organization suggests a four-dose schedule for children around five months of age. A fifth dosage will be administered in high-risk locations. Clinical trials showed a nearly two-thirds reduction in malaria fatalities when children were vaccinated before the rainy season.

According to the World Health Organization, research on two million vaccinated children in three African countries has demonstrated a 30% decrease in severe malaria symptoms.

Officials anticipate a rise in the number of nations expressing interest in the vaccination, which now stands at ten.