New malaria vaccination campaign launched in Africa to protect children from the disease

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Routine malaria vaccines start to roll out to protect children in Africa



“Children in Cameroon now can receive the much-awaited and critical protection against malaria. WHO states that for more than 600,000 of the 249 million global cases in 2022, most were in Africa, with children under five being at the highest risk. The world’s first malaria vaccine, RTS,S, is being deployed for routine immunizations in Africa after the WHO approval last year. This remarkable step is a massive leap in the collective efforts to save children’s lives and reduce malaria’s burden,” said Andrew Jones, principal advisor in UNICEF Supply Division’s Vaccine Centre in a media briefing from Copenhagen. Cameroon’s youngest population will be the first to benefit from this revolutionary vaccine.

Unprecedented Advancement

Mbianke Livancliff of Value Health Africa in Yaoundé, expressed excitement and the belief that the vaccine will be an advantageous tool to combat malaria. “It has been an excitement throughout the community that finally we have another tool that we can fight malaria,” Highlighting the significance of the vaccine’s introduction. Professor Wilfred Fon Mbacham shared compelling sentiments, one of which was the memory of his first encounter with malaria. Bluntly expressing that malaria needed to be eradicated and stating the adverse effects/effects of past treatments.

Meeting Demand

While acknowledging these advancements, Dr. Dorothy Achu, WHO’s team lead for tropical and vector-borne diseases in the Regional Office for Africa in Brazzaville, also emphasized that immunization campaigns are insufficient, and concurrent measures such as insecticide-treated bednets need to continue. John Johnson, a vaccine and epidemic response expert with Doctors without Borders, Paris, stated that despite the monumental feat of the vaccine, challenges remain, particularly in ensuring the successful uptake of the three required doses. Public health experts further advocate for a second approved malaria vaccine, R21/Matrix-M, developed by Oxford University, to help close the immense gap between demand and supply.

Thought-provoking Conclusion

The rollout of the RTS,S vaccine marks an incredible stride in the battle against malaria, a disease that has plagued millions around the world. The introduction of the twice-per-year vaccine, combined with the continued emphasis on malaria prevention methods like insecticide-treated bednets, serves as a beacon of hope. Yet, the road ahead remains perilous. The success of the vaccine will largely depend on confrontation of vaccination obstacles and on further research to improve this intervention, which could ultimately save tens of thousands of young lives, particularly in Africa. In this crucial moment, the possibility of eradicating one of the deadliest diseases that has relentlessly targeted Africa’s most vulnerable population is more tangible than it has ever been.



Reference

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