Story at a glance

  • The global health body on Wednesday backed the use of RTS,S, or Mosquirix, in sub-Saharan Africa and other parts of the world with moderate to high malaria transmission.
  • More than 800,000 children in three African countries have been given the vaccine developed by GlaxoSmithKline since 2019.
  • The vaccine, however, was found to reduce severe cases of malaria by just 30 percent and requires up to four doses.

The World Health Organization (WHO) is recommending widespread use of the world’s first vaccine to prevent malaria for children in Africa, as the life-threatening yet preventable disease continues to be a major public health problem in many parts of the world.

The global health body on Wednesday backed the use of RTS,S, or Mosquirix, in sub-Saharan Africa and other parts of the world with moderate to high malaria transmission based on the results of an ongoing pilot program taking place in Ghana, Kenya and Malawi. 

More than 800,000 children in the three African countries have been given the vaccine developed by GlaxoSmithKline since 2019. WHO recommends the vaccine should be given in children starting at 5 months of age. 

“For centuries, malaria has stalked sub-Saharan Africa, causing immense personal suffering,” Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa, said in a statement


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“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,” Moeti said. 

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom called it a “historic moment” and said the vaccine could save tens of thousands of lives each year. 

The vaccine, however, was found to reduce severe cases of malaria by just 30 percent and requires up to four doses. 

But still, the vaccine could have a major effect in Africa, where 94 percent of malaria cases and deaths worldwide occurred in 2019, according to WHO

An estimated 200 million cases are reported each year in Africa with more than 400,000 deaths. Children under the age of 5 are at highest risk, accounting for 67 percent of all malaria deaths worldwide in 2019.


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Published on Oct 06, 2021