In a major advance in the fight against one of Africa’s most severe health threats, preparations are under way for a mass roll-out of the world’s first malaria vaccine.
The roll-out, expected to protect millions of children on the continent, is being funded by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, for nearly $160m, reports Voice of America News.
The World Health Organisation said sub-Saharan Africa bears the brunt of the yearly toll of more than 240m malaria cases, including more than 600,000 reported deaths, most of the victims being children under five.
WHO regional director for Africa Matshidiso Moeti said one child dies every minute in Africa, with catastrophic consequences for families, communities and national development.
The vaccine was introduced in Africa in 2019. Since then, more than 1.3m children have benefited from the lifesaving inoculations in three pilot countries — Ghana, Kenya and Malawi, which have reported a 30% drop in hospitalisations of children with severe malaria and a 9% reduction in child deaths.
Thabani Maphosa, managing director of country programmes at Gavi, called the vaccine the most effective tool in the fight against malaria, but said demand for the lifesaving product would outstrip supply.
“Our challenge is to ensure the doses we have are used as effectively and equitably as possible,” he said. “With this is mind, Gavi is opening an application window for malaria support.”
The three pilot countries, already experienced in rolling out the vaccine, will be first in line for applying for and receiving funding.
Maphosa said a second round of funding will take place at the end of the year, at which time other countries with moderate to high cases of severe malaria can submit applications for support.
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