African countries chosen to test 1st malaria vaccine

First malaria vaccine to be tested in Africa next year

An initiative created and managed by African entrepreneurs, Goodbye Malaria has been raising funds for the past 4 years to deploy vector-control interventions, specifically indoor residual spraying (IRS), for preventing malaria cases in Mozambique, South Africa and Swaziland and works closely with the National Malaria Control Programmes in those countries to ensure optimum impact. Bed netting and insecticides are the chief protection.

World Health Organization counts 429,000 Africans that died from Malaria in 2015.

Commenting on the upcoming project, WHO's regional director of Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti said, "The prospect of a malaria vaccine is great news".

WHO's latest report spotlights critical gaps in prevention coverage, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. Community health workers must be able to provide reliable testing and treatment for malaria and other childhood illnesses. At least 92 percent of the victims of malaria were in Africa and two thirds of them were children under the age of five.

It said it was not certain the vaccine would be practical to administer in the poorest countries where access to healthcare can be poor. The rate of new malaria cases fell by 21 per cent globally between 2010 and 2015, and malaria death rates fell by 29 per cent in the same period.

The Week of 24-30 April is celebrated as World Immunization Week and World Malaria Day falls during this period.

Nearly half of the world's population is at risk of malaria, but sub-Saharan Africa is disproportionately affected by the disease, which is spread by mosquitoes infected with a parasite. With a bit of luck and a lot of hard work, this pilot program might be remembered a couple of decades from now as a huge milestone in our quest to say goodbye to malaria once and for all.

A global effort to counter malaria has led to a 62% cut in deaths between 2000 and 2015, the World Health Organization said. "In gathering local as well as worldwide, public and private partners around this common objective we expect to accelerate its fulfilment and End Malaria for Good". "This vaccine is a weapon amongst others, it is one of the tools at our disposal".

It said 360,000 children will be vaccinated between 2018 and 2020.

The government has recently announced a target to eliminate malaria by 2030. This region is maintaining a malaria-free status from 2016 and the countries at threat of introducing malaria again are increasing their efforts to guard their people against the threat of malaria reintroduction.

"The slow progress in this field is astonishing, given that malaria has been around for millennia and has been a major force for human evolutionary selection, shaping the genetic profiles of African populations", Kathryn Maitland, professor of tropical paediatric infectious diseases at Imperial College London, wrote in The New England Journal of Medicine in December.



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