Historic Moment as WHO Approves Malaria Vaccine for Africa

The World Health Organization (WHO) is recommending widespread use of the world's first malaria vaccine, in what the UN health agency's chief described as "an historic day" for the decades-long battle against the deadly disease. The vaccine is geared towards children in sub-Saharan Africa and other regions with moderate to high transmission.

The recommendation to begin using the RTS,S vaccine is based an ongoing pilot programme set up by WHO and partners in Ghana, Kenya and Malawi, that has reached more than 800,000 children since 2019.

"The long-awaited malaria vaccine for children is a breakthrough for science, child health and malaria control", said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. "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," Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa, said in a statement. "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. Today's recommendation offers a glimmer of hope for the continent which shoulders the heaviest burden of the disease and we expect many more African children to be protected from malaria and grow into healthy adults."

WHO says malaria is a top killer of children in sub-Saharan Africa, causing the deaths of more than 260,000 children under age 5 every year.

According to the World Health Organization, approximately 90% of malaria cases and deaths occur in sub-Saharan Africa, including Uganda where this women is seeking treatment for her child.

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