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Malaria vaccine for children at risk, approved by WHO

October 6, 2021

malaria vaccine for children at risk approved by WHO

Malaria is one of the most widespread and deadly diseases in the world. It affects over 200 million people each year, mostly children under 5 years old living in Africa. In 2019, malaria killed about 409 000 people. The percentage of total malaria deaths among children aged under 5 years was 84% in 2000 and 67% in 2019.

The World Health Organization (WHO) just announced that they’re recommending widespread use of the RTS,S/AS01 (RTS,S) malaria vaccine among children in sub-Saharan Africa and other regions with moderate to high P. falciparum malaria transmission because it has shown great potential for preventing severe illness and death from this disease when used alongside existing measures. The recommendation is based on results from an ongoing pilot programme in Ghana, Kenya and Malawi that has reached more than 800 000 children since 2019.

Accordin to WHO, the RTS,S malaria vaccine is the result of 30 years of research and development by GSK and through a partnership with PATH, with support from a network of African research centres.

WHO recommends RTS,S/AS01 malaria vaccine should be provided in a schedule of 4 doses in children from 5 months of age for the reduction of malaria disease and burden.

WHO reports High impact in real-life childhood vaccination settings, said it showed significant reduction (30%) in deadly severe malaria, even when introduced in areas where insecticide-treated nets are widely used and there is good access to diagnosis and treatment.

“For centuries, malaria has stalked sub-Saharan Africa, causing immense personal suffering,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa. “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.”

WHO recommends RTS,S/AS01 malaria vaccine should be provided in a schedule of 4 doses in children from 5 months of age for the reduction of malaria disease and burden.

About Malaria

According to WHO, Malaria is a life-threatening disease caused by parasites that are transmitted to people through the bites of infected female Anopheles mosquitoes. It is preventable and curable. There are 5 parasite species that cause malaria in humans, and 2 of these species – Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax – pose the greatest threat.

Below are some headline data on Malaria according to “World malaria report 2020: 20 years of global progress & challenges” ( Click Here to view report on WHO’s website )

Malaria cases

– Globally, there were an estimated 229 million malaria cases in 2019 in 87 malaria-endemic countries.

– Twenty-nine countries accounted for 95% of malaria cases globally. Nigeria (27%), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (12%), Uganda (5%), Mozambique (4%) and Niger (3%) accounted for about 51% of all cases globally.
– The World Health Organization (WHO) African Region, with an estimated 215 million cases in 2019, accounted for about 94% of cases.
– The WHO South-East Asia Region accounted for about 3% of the burden of malaria cases globally.
– The WHO Western Pacific Region had an estimated 1.7 million cases in 2019
WHO Region of the Americas, malaria cases was 0.9 million in 2019)

– Since 2015, the WHO European Region has been free of malaria.

Malaria deaths

■ Globally, malaria deaths have reduced steadily over the period 2000–2019, from 736 000 in 2000 to 409 000 in 2019.

– The percentage of total malaria deaths among children aged under 5 years was 84% in 2000 and 67% in 2019. The global estimate of deaths in 2015, the GTS baseline, was about 453 000.
■ Globally, the malaria mortality rate (i.e. deaths per 100 000 population at risk) reduced from about 25 in 2000 to 12 in 2015 and 10 in 2019, with the slowing of the rate of decline in the latter years.
■ About 95% of malaria deaths globally were in 31 countries. Nigeria (23%), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (11%), the United Republic of Tanzania (5%), Mozambique (4%), Niger (4%) and
Burkina Faso (4%) accounted for about 51% of all malaria deaths globally in 2019.
■ Malaria deaths in the WHO African Region reduced by 44%, from 680 000 in 2000 to 386 000 in 2019, and the malaria mortality rate reduced by 67% over the same period, from 121 to 40 deaths
per 100 000 population at risk.
■ In the WHO South-East Asia Region, malaria deaths reduced by 74%, from about 35 000 in 2000 to 9 000 in 2019.
■ India accounted for about 86% of all malaria deaths in the WHO South-East Asia Region.
■ In the WHO Eastern Mediterranean Region, malaria deaths reduced by 16%, from about 12 000 in 2000 to 10 100 in 2019, and the malaria mortality rate reduced by 50%, from four to two deaths
per 100 000 population at risk.
■ In the WHO Western Pacific Region, malaria deaths reduced by 52%, from about 6600 cases in 2000 to 3200 in 2019, and the mortality rate reduced by 60%, from one to 0.4 malaria deaths per 100 000 population at risk. Papua New Guinea accounted for over 85% of malaria deaths in 2019.
■ In the WHO Region of the Americas, malaria deaths reduced by 39% (from 909 to 551) and mortality rate by 50% (from 0.8 to 0.4). Over 70% of malaria deaths in 2019 in this region were in Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of).

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