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Monday, February 6, 2023
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    Malawi: Children’s Malaria Vaccine Launched

    The government of Malawi and the World Health Organisation (WHO) are rolling out a new malaria vaccine, RTSS, for young children to reduce deaths from the mosquito-borne disease.

    Development Diaries reports that the vaccine, which was tested on more than one million children in Ghana, Kenya and Malawi, was recommended in 2021 by the WHO.

    Although the effectiveness rate of the vaccine is 30 percent, the RTSS has raised hopes that some of the more than 400,000 people who die annually from malaria can be saved.

    According to Malawi’s Ministry of Health, malaria kills five Malawians every day, most of them children under the age of five or pregnant women who were not presented early enough for care.

    Available data shows that malaria remains a huge public health problem in the southern African country, with about one-third of its 20 million people getting infected each year.

    It is understood that the vaccine, sold by GlaxoSmithKline as Mosquirix, is meant for children under the age of five and requires four doses, with the first phase of the vaccination campaign targeting 330,000 children.

    ‘Malaria is a major problem in children. They are the ones at highest risk of dying’, VOA quoted the Secretary for Health in Malawi, Dr Charles Mwansambo, as saying.

    ‘That is why even when we were doing the earlier studies, we found that once we get maximum benefit, we should target this age group. The main reason is that they are the ones that are most likely to die from malaria’.

    For the WHO representative in Malawi, Dr Neema Kimambo, she said, ‘Where it [vaccination] was done, we have seen how it has reduced under-five deaths and we believe that as we expand now, we are definitely to save more lives of children under five’.

    In 2021, the government launched a nationwide anti-malaria initiative, ‘Zero Malaria Starts with Me’, aimed at eliminating the disease by 2030.

    Photo source: Radio Okapi

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