ADDIS ABABA – African Union through the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) has welcomed the UN health agency’s historic go-ahead for the malaria vaccine to protect African children.
On October 6, the the World Health Organization’s (WHO) recommended the widespread roll out of the first malaria RTS,S vaccine, also known as Mosquirix, to counter the deadly disease across Africa.
This comes after a successful pilot program carried out in three African countries – Kenya, Ghana, and Malawi.
Dr. John Nkengasong, the Director of the Africa CDC, described the vaccine as a “game changer” and would help fight against one of the deadliest diseases that has killed thousands, including children, on the continent.
“The news of a successful malaria vaccine is a game-changer and must be celebrated,” Director of Africa CDC said.
Over 229 million cases of malaria were registered in 2019 worldwide compared to 228 million cases in 2018, indicates the World Malaria Report released in November 2020.
The report projected that Africa carries a high share of the global malaria burden of 94% of malaria and deaths in 2019.
Having the new vaccine that “shows that level of effectiveness in preventing severe illness and death in children is remarkable”, Dr. Nkengasong said.
“It is one of the most significant breakthroughs in the last 100 years that we have lived with malaria,” he added.
According to the Malaria report, children under 5 years of age are the most vulnerable group affected by malaria as of 2019, as they accounted for 67% (274 000) of all malaria deaths worldwide.