6 reasons African children should get WHO’s malaria vaccine shot

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Malaria Disease Prevention and Control in African Children

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Photo credit: unicef.org

6 reasons African children should get WHO’s malaria vaccine shot

The World Health Organization (WHO) approves first malaria vaccine for African children

The World Health Organization (WHO)
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The World Health Organization (WHO) Logo. Image credit: un.org

The World Health Organization (WHO) –The United Nations’ supervised International Health Organization has approved widespread use of the long-awaited RTS,S/AS01 (RTS,S) malaria vaccine among children in sub-Saharan Africa and in other regions with moderate to high P. falciparum malaria transmission with breakthrough and ground-breaking results from an on-going pilot programme in Ghana, Kenya and Malawi that has reached more than 800 000 children since 2019.

WHO recommendations for the RTS,S malaria vaccine

1. Based on the advice of two WHO global advisory bodies, one for immunization and the other for malaria, the Organization recommends that RTS,S/AS01 malaria vaccine should be provided in a schedule of 4 doses in children from 5 months of age for the reduction of malaria disease and burden in the context of comprehensive malaria control for the prevention of P. falciparum malaria in children living in regions with moderate to high transmission as defined by WHO.

2. The WHO-recommended malaria vaccine will include funding decisions from the global health community for broader rollout, and country decision-making on whether to adopt the vaccine as part of national malaria control strategies.

Reasons children should get the Malaria Vaccine, RTS,S/AS01 jab

1. There is no feasible hitch to its delivery:

Malaria Vaccine introduction is feasible and there is no hitch to its delivery.  RTS,S/AS01 malaria vaccine is proved to improve health and saves lives, with good and equitable coverage of RTS,S are seen through routine immunization systems.

2. Safe to use

The malaria vaccine is deemed to have a strong safety profile. WHO quoted in its latest statement on the vaccine recommendation that more than 2.3 million doses of the vaccine have been administered in 3 African countries (Ghana, Kenya and Malawi) to date – the vaccine has a favourable safety profile.

3. It can reach the unreached

WHO stated in the summary of key findings of the malaria vaccine pilots that the malaria vaccine, RTS,S/AS01 increases equity in access to malaria prevention.

Data from the pilot programme, according to WHO, showed that more than two-thirds of children in the 3 countries who are not sleeping under a bednet are benefitting from the RTS,S vaccine and Layering the tools results in over 90% of children benefitting from at least one preventive intervention (insecticide-treated bednets or the malaria vaccine).

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4. Highly impacts real-life childhood vaccination situations

Up to 30% significant reduction in deadly severe malaria has been recorded even when introduced in areas where insecticide-treated nets are widely used and there is good access to diagnosis and treatment.

5. No negative impact on the uptake of bednets, other childhood vaccinations, or health-seeking behaviour for febrile illness.

There has been no negative impact on the uptake of insecticide-treated nets, bednets, other childhood vaccinations, or health-seeking behaviour for febrile illness in areas where the vaccine has been introduced.

6. Highly cost-effective

WHO stated that modelling estimates that the malaria vaccine is cost-effective in areas of moderate to high malaria transmission.

Financing for the pilot programme has been mobilized through an unprecedented collaboration among three key global health funding bodies: Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance; the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria; and Unitaid.

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