Ghana, Kenya, Malawi to Test First Malaria Vaccine

Ghana, Kenya, Malawi to Test First Malaria Vaccine

Ghana, Kenya, Malawi to Test First Malaria Vaccine

The three countries have been picked for the trials because they already run large programmes against the disease, including the use of insecticide-treated nets, but the incidence of the scourge is still high. "Combined with existing malaria interventions, such a vaccine would have the potential to save tens of thousands of lives in Africa", she added.

To be effective, the vaccine has to be administered once a month for three months, then again 18 months later, which could be challenging in poor and remote regions that only have sporadic access to healthcare.

At least 120,000 children in each of the selected three countries will receive the vaccine, which has taken decades of work and hundreds of millions of dollars to develop. In Central Africa, where access to healthcare is limited, getting this fourth dose of the vaccine may pose a problem, but failure to take it will significantly decrease the vaccine's effectiveness, World Health Organization representatives explained.

Also, the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) yesterday, said Nigeria accounts for one-quarter of all infant-related deaths and one-third of deaths in children under-five years of age globally. In 2015, the year of the latest available data, the WHO estimated 212 million people around the world contracted malaria and 429,000 died.

It said preventive treatment for infants, for example, which is safe, cost-effective and well accepted by health workers and communities, is now only being implemented in Sierra Leone.

The WHO pilot programme will assess whether the Mosquirix's protective effect in children aged five to 17 months can be replicated in real-life.

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According to the Economic Survey, malaria killed some 20,000 Kenyans past year. The majority of fatalities occurred in young children in Africa.

Also called Mosquirix, the product was created by the British pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and is designed to shield children from the most lethal form of malaria now occurring in Africa.

"Malaria places a awful burden on numerous world's poorest countries, claiming thousands of lives and holding back economies". Information garnered from the pilot will help to inform later decisions about potential wider use of the vaccine.

"This is great news, actually", said Dr. Photini Sinnis, a deputy director at the Johns Hopkins Malaria Research Institute and professor at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

While a malaria vaccine would be an invaluable tool, other methods remain vital in preventing malaria. Trials so far involving 15,000 participants from seven countries suggest RTS, S reduces the frequency of malaria episodes by 40 percent.

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