Routine malaria vaccinations begin in Africa

Henry

After a successful pilot program, the world’s first WHO-recommended malaria vaccinations were administered through immunization programs right across Africa.

The vaccination campaign has started in Cameroon and vaccinations will be administered across 42 health districts, selected in the order according to which the most vulnerable children can be protected against this disease.

Aurélia Nguyen, head of the program at Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, says malaria claims too many deaths every year. “More than half a million children under five in Africa alone. Today is a historic milestone, as we finally have a new tool in the fight against a disease that particularly affects the African continent.”

More than 95% of malaria deaths worldwide are reported in Africa.

“Cameroon today becomes the first country in the world to start routine malaria vaccinations. The RTS,S vaccination is administered in 42 districts, those with populations at highest risk. The vaccinations will be administered to all children who are eligible and walk into clinics.”

Malaria cases and deaths have increased in Cameroon since 2017. Almost 30% of all hospital consultations are related to malaria. “Vaccinations will save lives and provide great relief for families and the country’s health system.”

Nguyen says about 20 African countries have plans to start the program this year to eventually reach more than 3 million children. Some countries have already received their vaccination doses. This goal depends on the availability of the second WHO-approved malaria vaccination and countries’ level of preparedness.

However, more than 30 African countries have indicated their interest in a routine malaria vaccination programme.

“Although Gavi is fully funded for its current strategic period, which ends in 2025, we must ensure that funding is in place for the next five-year period (2026 to 2030), so that this essential work can continue into the future, ” Nguyen added.