Monday, June 17, 2024

Cameroon Launches Historic Malaria Vaccine Initiative

Cameroon has initiated the world’s first routine vaccine program against malaria. This marks a significant milestone in the global fight against the deadly disease. The inaugural dose of the RTS,S vaccine was administered to a baby girl, Daniella. This was at a health facility near Yaoundé on Monday, symbolizing a breakthrough expected to save thousands of children’s lives across Africa.

Malaria claims the lives of 600,000 people annually in Africa. Children under five account for at least 80% of these deaths, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). The RTS,S vaccine, which was provided free of charge to infants up to six months old in Cameroon requires four doses. It has shown effectiveness in at least 36% of cases, offering hope for a significant reduction in mortality rates.

The vaccine is hailed as an important “additional tool” in the fight against malaria by Cameroonian doctor Shalom Ndoula, a key figure in the rollout. The development of the vaccine, a result of 30 years of research by British drug maker GSK, has been approved by the WHO and is celebrated as a historic moment.

Cameroon’s rollout follows successful pilot campaigns in Kenya, Ghana, and Malawi. Twenty other countries, including Burkina Faso, Liberia, Niger, and Sierra Leone, aim to implement the program in 2024. This is as announced by the global vaccine alliance, Gavi. The WHO underscores the urgency of addressing malaria. This is because it accounted for 95% of global cases and 96% of related deaths in Africa in 2021. Introducing the RTS,S vaccine signals a crucial step toward reducing malaria’s impact on the continent.


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