Tuesday, January 23, 2024
Year : 2, Issue : 4
The global fight against malaria took a stride forward on Monday as Cameroon started the world’s first mass vaccine programme against the mosquito-borne disease.
About 40 years in the making, the World Health Organisation (WHO)-approved RTS,S vaccine developed by British drugmaker GSK is meant to work alongside existing tools such as bed nets to combat malaria, which in Africa kills nearly half-a-million children under the age of five each year.
After successful trials, including in Ghana and Kenya, Cameroon is the first country to administer doses through a routine programme that 19 other countries aim to roll out this year, according to global vaccine alliance Gavi.
About 6.6-million children in these countries are targeted for malaria vaccination in 2024/25.
“For a long time, we have been waiting for a day like this,” said Mohammed Abdulaziz of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) at a joint online briefing with the WHO, Gavi and other organisations.
Caroline Badefona, manager of Cliniques des Anges hospital in Douala, said five girls and one boy aged six months were vaccinated at her hospital on Monday.
“It went very well,” she said. “We are proud to have this programme in place because it will eradicate malaria in children aged six to 59 months.” Early turnout was low on Monday. In a health centre in the northern Cameroon district of Datcheka, 12 children were vaccinated early on Monday, according to a Reuters reporter.
Rolling out the second vaccine “is expected to result in sufficient vaccine supply to meet the high demand and reach millions more children”, the WHO’s director of immunisation, Kate O’Brien, said at the briefing.