The World Health Organization (WHO), has recommended the use of the first-ever produced malaria vaccine, the RTS, S/AS01. This vaccine is an immunological approach against the plasmodium parasite.
“According to the World Health Organization (WHO), malaria is a life-threatening disease caused by parasites that are transmitted to people through the bites of infected female Anopheles mosquitoes. In 2019, there were an estimated 229 million cases of malaria worldwide. The estimated number of malaria deaths stood at 409 000 in 2019”.
Children aged under five years are the most vulnerable group affected by malaria; in 2019, they accounted for 67 per cent (274 000) of all malaria deaths worldwide. Two-thirds of those who die from the disease are from Africa. So, you can see the level of death that can be prevented from malaria vaccination.
The (WHO) is recommending the widespread use of the world’s first malaria vaccine for the decades-long battle against the deadly disease for children at risk.
The vaccine is geared towards children, in sub-Saharan Africa and other regions with moderate to high transmission.
The recommendation to begin using the RTS, S vaccine, is based on an ongoing pilot program set up by WHO and partners in Ghana, Kenya and Malawi, that has reached more than 800,000 children since 2019.
Based on the advice of two WHO global advisory bodies, one for immunization and the other for malaria, the UN agency has made a series of specific recommendations.
They include that immunization should be administered in regions with moderate to high transmission, in a schedule of four doses, in children from five months of age and above.
WHO Director-General, Tedros Ghebreyesus, said at a news conference at WHO Headquarters in Geneva. “The long-awaited malaria vaccine for children is a breakthrough for science, child health and malaria control,”
“Using this vaccine on top of existing tools to prevent malaria could save tens of thousands of young lives each year,” he said.
Ghebreyesus said the world had made “incredible progress” in the fight against malaria in the past two decades.
Other Preventive Measures
Prevention is better than cure, so developing a vaccine for a disease is quite commendable because it’s the first step to be taken in tackling the disease. Meanwhile, people should not give the vaccine to children and relax; all other means of preventing malaria should be observed. As an individual, general body or community, we need to intensify efforts by enforcing:
- Environmental hygiene sanitation, and provision of pipe-borne water.
- Cleanliness of our surroundings and elimination of stagnant water is critical.
- Ensure to always have access to preventative tools, including insect repellants, insecticides, pre-treated mosquito nets
- And always be on appropriate clothing when out door.
- Talk to your healthcare provider when you or your child have malaria symptoms.
- Avoid self-medication.
HOW SAFE AND EFFECTIVE IS THE MALARIA VACCINE (RTS,S/AS01)
According to previous scientific research, the first-ever malaria vaccine RTS,S/AS01, is safe and substantially effective.
“RTS,S/AS01 prevented many cases of clinical and severe malaria over the 18 month after vaccine dose 3, with the highest impact in areas with the greatest malaria incidence. Vaccine Efficacy was higher in children than in infants, but even at modest levels of Vaccine Efficacy, the number of malaria cases averted was substantial. RTS,S/AS01 could be an important addition to current malaria control in Africa“.