World Health Organization has announced that three African countries: Ghana, Kenya and Malawi are selected for testing the world’s first malaria vaccine next year on young children who were at high risk of death.
This malaria vaccine is developed by a pharmaceutical company, GlaxoSmithKline. The funding of $ 49 million for the first phase of the pilot is done by the global vaccine alliance GAVI, UNITAID and Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director of Africa said in a statement that this malaria vaccine is the injectable vaccine with partial effectiveness but has the potential in saving thousands of lives if used with existing measures. But the biggest challenge is whether the poor countries can deliver the required four doses of vaccine for each child.
Malaria had been one of the world’s most stubborn health challenges that have been infecting more than 200 million people each year. About half a million people infected with malaria are being killed by this disease. Most of the infected who are killed of malaria are children in Africa.
The chief protection against malaria in Africa is achieved by bed netting and insecticides. 90 percent of malaria cases in the world in 2015 were reported in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Malaria spreads when a mosquito bites an infected person and sucks up blood and parasites and bites another person afterwards.
This injectable malaria vaccine will be tested on children aged five to 17 months and results will be collected whether the vaccine’s protective effect will work as seen in clinical trials or not in real-life conditions.
It took decades of hard work and hundreds of millions of dollars to develop this vaccine.
The reason for choosing the countries like Kenya, Ghana and Malawi is because these countries have strong prevention and vaccination programs but are recording high number of malaria cases. These countries will deliver the vaccine through existing vaccination programs.
WHO is planning to make a malaria free world by 2040 despite increasing resistance problems to both insecticides used for killing mosquitoes and drugs.