Malaria Vaccine in Africa Gives New Hope!

Key Takeaways

  • Innovative Vaccination Efforts: Over 10,000 children in Burkina Faso and Cameroon have received the RTS,S malaria vaccine, marking a pivotal moment in the fight against malaria.
  • Expanded Rollout: The vaccine’s integration into national immunization programs across several African countries, including Cameroon and Burkina Faso, signals a broader campaign against this deadly disease.
  • Collaborative Success: The initiative, led by the World Health Organization (WHO) and supported by various partners, showcases a significant advance in public health strategy.
  • Hope for the Future: This vaccination drive is a step forward in reducing the malaria burden, especially among children under five, who are most at risk.

In a remarkable stride towards eradicating malaria, over 10,000 children in Burkina Faso and Cameroon have now been vaccinated with the RTS,S malaria vaccine. This initiative marks a significant milestone in the continent’s fight against one of its most persistent public health challenges. The wider deployment of this vaccine commenced in 2024, with Cameroon pioneering its integration outside the initial pilot program on January 22, 2024. This effort has extended to over 500 health facilities across the nation, embracing both public and private sectors in all 10 regions.

Following Cameroon’s lead, Burkina Faso initiated its vaccination campaign on February 5, 2024, symbolizing the latest country to join this crucial battle. This game-changing vaccine adds a powerful tool to the existing arsenal of malaria control measures, aiming to significantly lower the disease’s incidence and mortality.

Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Director for Africa, emphasized the vaccine’s role in combating malaria, one of the region’s major health challenges. The broader introduction of the malaria vaccine across African nations represents a critical advancement in thwarting this deadly disease, underscoring WHO’s commitment to ensuring all eligible children receive protection from malaria’s devastating effects.

This ambitious vaccine rollout is part of the WHO Regional Office for Africa’s Accelerated Malaria Vaccines Introduction and Rollout in Africa (AMVIRA). AMVIRA is designed to facilitate the inclusion of two malaria vaccines, RTS,S and R21, into the routine immunization schedules of 19 African countries in 2024. Through this initiative, WHO aims to enhance support to countries for the effective and efficient introduction and rollout of these vaccines, improving coordination with key partners including UNICEF, GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance, and others.

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To support smooth vaccine introduction, WHO has deployed 69 experts across Cameroon and Burkina Faso, specializing in immunization, data science, and communication. These efforts focus on comprehensive preparation, including setting up national vaccination policies, integrating the new vaccine with other health interventions, and ensuring community engagement and demand generation.

As the malaria vaccine rollout continues across eligible countries, WHO remains dedicated to deploying experts where needed and implementing robust monitoring to track progress, identify challenges, and facilitate timely interventions. The successful strategies observed in Cameroon and Burkina Faso will serve as models for other countries preparing to launch the vaccines.

Malaria remains a significant burden, particularly in Africa, which accounted for approximately 94% of global malaria cases and 95% of deaths in 2022. With 249 million cases worldwide and 608,000 deaths, of which 77% were children under the age of five, the continent’s fight against malaria is critical. The introduction and expansion of the malaria vaccine offer a beacon of hope, aiming to significantly reduce the toll of this disease on the continent’s most vulnerable populations.


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