TBS Report

07 October 2021, 09:40

Last modification: 07 October 2021, 09:50

Malaria screening at a WHO facility in Africa. Photo: WHO


Malaria screening at a WHO facility in Africa. Photo: WHO

The World Health Organization (WHO) has recommended the widespread use of the malaria vaccine RTS, S / AS01 (RTS, S) in children in sub-Saharan Africa and other areas where transmission of falciparum malaria is moderate to high.

The recommendation is based on the results of an ongoing pilot program in Ghana, Kenya and Malawi that has reached more than 800,000 children since 2019, according to a WHO report.

“This is a historic moment. The long-awaited malaria vaccine for children is a breakthrough for science, child health and the fight against malaria, ”said WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

“Using this vaccine in addition to existing tools to prevent malaria could save tens of thousands of young lives every year,” he added.

Malaria remains one of the leading causes of childhood illness and death in sub-Saharan Africa. More than 260,000 African children under the age of five die from malaria each year.

In recent years, WHO and its partners have reported stagnant progress against this deadly disease.

“For centuries, malaria has haunted sub-Saharan Africa, causing immense personal suffering,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa.

Based on advice from two WHO global advisory bodies, one for immunization and the other for malaria, the RTS, S / AS01 malaria vaccine should be administered on a 4-dose schedule to children at from 5 months to reduce malaria and burden.

The main findings of the pilot projects informed the recommendation based on data and information generated by two years of immunization at child health clinics in the three pilot countries, implemented under the leadership of the ministries of health of Ghana, Kenya. and Malawi.

Results include achievable delivery, extended reach, strong safety profile, high impact in real childhood immunization settings, and cost-effectiveness.

According to the WHO report, next steps for the WHO recommended malaria vaccine will include funding decisions from the global health community for wider deployment and country decision making on adoption or no vaccine as part of national malaria control strategies.

Funding for the pilot program was mobilized through collaboration between three major global health funding agencies — Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance; the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria; and Unitaid.

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