Historic day as first Malaria vaccine is approved

A groundbreaking vaccine against Malaria that could save countless numbers of children’s lives in Africa has been approved by the World Health Organization (WHO).

This huge step forward in the world of medicine became a reality when the WHO formally recommended use of the RTS,S/AS01 (RTS,S) malaria vaccine among children in sub-Saharan Africa and in other regions with moderate to high malaria transmission

It comes on the back of results from an ongoing pilot programme in Ghana, Kenya and Malawi that has reached more than 800 000 children since its launch in 2019.

Malaria remains a primary cause of childhood illness and death in sub-Saharan Africa. More than 260,000 African children under the age of five die from malaria annually, says the WHO, but in recent years it has been reporting a stagnation in progress against the disease.

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director general, said: “This is a historic moment. 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.”

Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, added: “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.”

Click here for more information on the vaccine and here for more about the disease.

Author: Simon Weedy

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