Malaria vaccine recommended by WHO

The World Health Organization (WHO) is recommending widespread use of the RTS,S/AS01 (RTS,S) malaria vaccine among children in sub-Saharan Africa and in 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.

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.

Based on the advice of two WHO global advisory bodies, one for immunization and the other for malaria, the Organization recommends that:

“WHO recommends that in the context of comprehensive malaria control the RTS,S/AS01 malaria vaccine be used for the prevention of P. falciparum malaria in children living in regions with moderate to high transmission as defined by WHO.  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.”

Next steps for the WHO-recommended malaria vaccine will include funding decisions from the global health community for broader rollout, and country decision-making on whether to adopt the vaccine as part of national malaria control strategies.

World Health Organisation (WHO) Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus commented:

“This is a historic moment. The long-awaited malaria vaccine for children is a breakthrough for science, child health and malaria control, using this vaccine on top of existing tools to prevent malaria could save tens of thousands of young lives each year.”

In recent years, WHO and its partners have been reporting a stagnation in progress against the deadly disease.

Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa commented:

“For centuries, malaria has stalked sub-Saharan Africa, causing immense personal suffering, 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.”

You can read more on the WHO website.

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