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WHO Endorses Malaria Vaccine for Children in Sub-Saharan Africa

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The World Health Organisation on Wednesday endorsed the widespread use of the RTS, S/AS01 malaria vaccine among children in sub-Saharan Africa and in other regions with moderate to high P. falciparum malaria transmission.
WHO, on its website noted that the recommendation was based on results from an ongoing pilot programme in Ghana, Kenya and Malawi that has reached more than 800 000 children since 2019.

The WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, 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.”
Malaria, according to WHO remains a primary cause of childhood illness and death in sub-Saharan Africa as more than 260 000 African children under the age of five die from malaria annually.

In recent years, the WHO and its partners have been reporting stagnation in progress against the deadly disease.
WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, said, “For centuries, malaria has stalked sub-Saharan Africa, causing immense personal suffering. 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.”
According to the New York Times, the vaccine, called Mosquirix, is not just a first for malaria — it is the first developed for any parasitic disease.

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