Did you know that there is now a vaccine for Malaria?

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) Malaria Day is on 6 November every year.  SADC Malaria Day aims to create awareness about malaria and mobilise the community to participate in the malaria control programmes.

Malaria remains a primary cause of childhood illness and death in sub-Saharan Africa.  More than 260,000 African children under the age of five die from malaria annually.

6 October 2021 proved to be historic in the development of malaria vaccines, with release of the World Health Organization (WHO) recommendation for widespread use of the RTS,S/AS01 (RTS,S) malaria vaccine among children living in sub-Saharan Africa and other regions with moderate to high P. falciparum malaria transmission.  The recommendation is based on results from an ongoing pilot programme in Ghana, Kenya and Malawi that has reached more than 800,000 children since 2019.

“This is a historic moment.  The long-awaited malaria vaccine for children is a breakthrough for science, child health and malaria control,” said WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.  In recent years, WHO and its partners have been reporting a stagnation in progress against the deadly disease.  “Using this vaccine on top of existing tools to prevent malaria could save tens of thousands of young lives each year.”

“For centuries, malaria has stalked sub-Saharan Africa, causing immense personal suffering,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa. “We have long hoped for an effective malaria vaccine and now for the first time ever, we have such a vaccine recommended for widespread use.”

RTS,S/AS01 malaria vaccine should be provided in a schedule of 4 doses in children from 5 months of age for the reduction of malaria disease and burden.