African countries urged to apply for malaria vaccine funding

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Maputo (AIM-New Ziana) -The World Health Organization has urged African countries to apply for the $160 million funding for the first malaria vaccine.

Deaths from the mosquito-borne disease are rising for the first time in three years.

In October 2021, the World Health Organization (WHO) endorsed the first-ever malaria vaccine, the protein-based RTS,S/AS01.

The four-dose vaccine, advanced by landmark COVID-19 prevention efforts, is a major milestone that scientists have painstakingly worked toward for decades.

The vaccine, developed by GSK Plc, has been piloted in Ghana, Kenya and Malawi, all of which will be the first to get further access through international vaccine alliance Gavi, before expansion to other eligible endemic countries, the WHO said.

Finding more effective inoculations against malaria has been a critical goal in fighting a disease that killed almost half a million African children in 2020, with most being under the age of five, with WHO regional director for Africa Matshidiso Moeti describing the numbers as “outrageous.”

Moeti told a virtual briefing on Thursday that getting the vaccine into more countries “will make a huge difference to African children, African families and African economies.”

He said where the vaccine had been introduced, there had been a “substantial drop” in hospitalization for malaria, as well as a decline in child deaths.

Still, supply of the doses would still be limited as production ramps up, with the annual estimated demand for the shot being 80 million to 100 million doses, he said.

“In the first days of the Covid pandemic there was a question in some countries in Africa, do you know anybody who has been affected by Covid?” Thabani Maposa, Gavi managing director of country programs said at the same briefing.

“But with malaria, it is exactly the opposite, “Do you know anyone who has not been affected by malaria in their family, in their community?”

AIM-New Ziana

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