The World Health Organization (WHO) advises large-scale vaccination of children in Africa against malaria. WHO boss Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus speaks of a ‘historical moment’ in the fight against the deadly infectious disease. “The long-awaited children‘s malaria vaccine is a breakthrough for science, child health and malaria control.”
The vaccine, which proved effective against the infectious disease six years ago, has since been used in a pilot in Malawi, Ghana and Kenya. At least 800,000 children have been vaccinated with the so-called RTS, S vaccine produced by pharmaceutical GlaxoSmithKline (GSK). Based on the pilot, WHO is now advising the use of the drug for children in sub-Saharan Africa and in other countries where malaria is common.
WHO on Twitter:
“It’s an exciting moment for us,” Kwame Amponsa-Achiano tells the BBC. The doctor has examined whether vaccination is widely practicable and effective in Ghana. “I assume that the vaccinations will significantly reduce the number of malaria deaths.”
Children get a shot of four times in total: when they are five months, six months and seven months old, and then 18 months old.
WHO stresses that the use of mosquito nets remains necessary. According to WHO, tens of thousands of lives can be saved by the means every year. In Africa, around 260,000 children under the age of five die of malaria every year. The disease is transmitted by malaria mosquitoes.