GENEVA APRIL 25, 2017(CISA) – The World Health Organisation (WHO) is set to introduce first malaria vaccine to Kenya, Ghana and Malawi starting 2018.
In a statement released April 24, WHO regional director for Africa Matshidiso Moeti said the information gathered from this programme would help make decision on wider use of the vaccine.
“Information gathered in the pilot programme will help us make decisions on the wider use of this vaccine. Combined with existing malaria interventions, such as a vaccine would have potential to save tens of thousands in Africa,” he said as reported by BBC News.
WHO said Malawi, Kenya and Ghana were chosen for the pilot programme because they already run large programmes to tackle malaria, including the wide use of bed nets and well functioning immunisation programs but still are having high rates of malaria.
The vaccine called Mosquirix developed by GlaxoSmithKline in Britain trains the immune system to attack the malaria parasite spread by mosquito bites. The vaccine needs to be administered four times; once a month for three months and then a fourth dose 18 months later.
The pilot programme will involve more that 750,000 children aged between 5 and 17 months. Around half will get the vaccine in order to compare the vaccines’ real world effectiveness. Positive results have been achieved in controlled clinical trials.
The project are being funded by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria, Unitaid, the WHO and GSK.
Dr Seth Berkley, the chief executive of Gavi hailed the project saying it is marking an important step towards making the vaccine available in the world.
“The worlds’ first malaria vaccine is a real achievement. Today’s announcement marks an important step towards potentially making it available on a global scale. These pilots are crucial to determining the impact this vaccine could have in reducing this toll,” he said.
According to WHO, there are 212 million new cases of malaria each year and 429,000 deaths. Africa is the hardest hit and most of the deaths are in children.