Health: WHO ‘Historically’ Recommend Malaria Vaccine For Children In Sub-Saharan Africa

There has recently been a breakthrough in the quest of providing a sustainable healthcare for the children of sub-Saharan Africa vulnerable to malaria. In the latest development, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has described malaria vaccine developed in Africa and by African scientists, recommended for children in sub-Saharan Africa, as “historic’’.

Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesman for the Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, said this at a news conference on Wednesday at the UN headquarters in New York.

Dujarric said WHO had announced that it is recommending widespread use of a malaria vaccine for children in sub-Saharan Africa and other regions.

The recommendation is based on results from an ongoing pilot program in Ghana, Kenya, and Malawi that has reached more than 800,000 children since 2019.’’

According to the UN correspondent, the WHO Director-General, Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus, had announced the development at a news conference in Geneva on Wednesday.

Ghebreyesus said the vaccine was a powerful new tool, but like COVID-19 vaccines, it is not the only tool.

According to him, vaccination against malaria does not replace or reduce the need for other measures, including bednets, or seeking care for fever.

“Of course, the key to any public health endeavor of this size and scope is a partnership.

“I thank the children, families, and communities who have participated in this historic pilot program.

“I thank the Ministries of Health of Ghana, Kenya, and Malawi for their leadership in embarking on these pilot programs, which have continued despite COVID-19.’’

The WHO chief, therefore, thanked the researchers in Africa who generated the data and insights that informed this decision, saying” this is a vaccine developed in Africa, by African scientists, and we’re very proud’’.

He also thanked GlaxoSmithKline and many research partners for creating the vaccine, and PATH for bringing it from discovery through development, with support from The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

“I thank Gavi, the Global Fund and Unitaid, who funded the pilot programs and the evaluations.

“Malaria has been with us for millennia, and the dream of a malaria vaccine has been long-held but unattainable.

“Today, the RTS’s malaria vaccine – more than 30 years in the making – changes the course of public health history.

“We still have a very long road to travel. But this is a long stride down that road,’’ the director-general said.

In addition, he said the vaccine was a gift to the world, but its value would be felt most in Africa because that’s where the burden of malaria is greatest.

The malaria parasite is mostly transmitted by infective mosquitoes and carried in the blood, after being bitten.

It is not contagious person-to-person, and symptoms include a fever of flu-like illness, nausea, and vomiting, and if left untreated, it can be fatal, killing more than 400,000 each year worldwide.

Since 2000, deaths have fallen by more than half, and the disease has been eliminated in many parts of the world.

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