The World Health Organization (WHO) has recommended widespread use of the RTS,S/AS01 (RTS,S) malaria vaccine among children in sub-Saharan Africa and in other regions with moderate to high P. falciparum malaria transmission.
Children across much of Africa are to be vaccinated against malaria in a historic moment in the fight against the deadly disease.
Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General, WHO said:
This is a historic moment. The long-awaited malaria vaccine for children is a breakthrough for science, child health and malaria control. Using this vaccine on top of existing tools to prevent malaria could save tens of thousands of young lives each year.
Malaria is a parasite that invades and destroys our blood cells in order to reproduce, and it’s spread by the bite of blood-sucking mosquitoes. Drugs to kill the parasite, bed-nets to prevent bites and insecticides to kill the mosquito have all helped reduce malaria.
Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa said:
For centuries, malaria has stalked sub-Saharan Africa, causing immense personal suffering. 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.
The disease remains a major cause of death among pregnant women and a primary cause of childhood illness and death in sub-Saharan Africa. More than 260 000 African children under the age of five die from malaria annually.