Ghana has started phase one of malaria vaccine implementation in selected districts across the country.
RTS, S, also known as Mosquirix, is an injectable vaccine developed to protect against Plasmodium falciparum malaria in children. The vaccine will reduce the episodes of clinical malaria and the chances of severe malaria.
The RTS, S will be administered to about 120 - 150, 000 children per year within a period of 2 to 3 years after its implementation. It is expected that at least 50,000 malaria cases will be averted and approximately 750 children saved from dying in intervention areas.
The programme will be piloted for 2 to 3 years in 33 selected districts in 6 regions-- Central, Oti, Bono, Bono East, Ahafo and Volta.
At a press briefing in Accra, the Director General of the Ghana Health Service, Dr. Anthony Nsiah-Asare, said, the Mosquirix is an additional intervention to accelerate Ghana's efforts towards controlling and eliminating.
He assured that, from the various trials conducted on the vaccine in the last 7 years, the RTS, S has been observed to have a very good safety profile, good efficacy and impacted positively on the health of children.
Based on the safety profile of the RTS, S the World Health Organisation (WHO) had recommended the pilot implementation of the vaccine within the routine immunization programme of infants alongside other malaria interventions, Dr. Nsiah-Asare said.
On the implementation partners, he mentioned that the Programme for Appropriate Technology in Health (PATH) was to provide technical and project managerial support for the Malaria Vaccine Implementation programme through country-led immunization programme.
While GSK, one of the implementing partners, would donate up to 10 million doses of RTS, S for use in the Malaria Vaccine Implementation.
He said the Ministries of Health in Ghana, Kenya, and Malawi were leading the vaccine the implementation through their national immunization programmes.
WHO has indicated that the RTS, S/ASO1 was currently the only malaria vaccine to have received a positive regulatory assessment, which was issued by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) for Medical Products for Human Use (CHMP), he added.