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- A steady reduction in malaria-induced childhood mortality.
- Wider vaccine distribution in 12 African nations for 2023-2025.
- Malaria is claiming the lives of half a million children every year.
The relentless march towards curtailing malaria in Africa persists, with the pioneering malaria vaccine RTS,S continuing to exhibit a remarkable reduction in childhood mortality.
Data from a four-year program revealed a 13% decline in deaths among children who were administered three doses of the RTS,S vaccine during infancy. This sustained protection is a testament to the vaccine's efficacy, even as the children grow older.
Expanding the shield
Building upon prior successes, the scope of vaccination is set to broaden across the continent. A total of 18 million doses of the malaria vaccine are earmarked for distribution in 12 African nations between 2023 and 2025.
While Ghana, Kenya, and Malawi continue their vaccination initiatives, nine more countries are slated to introduce the vaccine. This significant rollout, orchestrated by Gavi, WHO, and UNICEF, aims to extend the life-saving shield of immunization to a greater number of children at risk, thereby averting tens of thousands of deaths annually.
The battle against malaria is bolstered by the availability of a second malaria vaccine, R21/Matrix-M, further enhancing the armamentarium against this life-threatening disease. UNICEF recently secured a supply agreement for this new vaccine. With two vaccines the aspiration to significantly reduce, if not eliminate, the toll of malaria on young lives is gradually inching closer to reality.