The world’s first routine vaccine programme against malaria

In 2021 Africa faced a battle against malaria. Accounting for 95% of all reported cases and approximately 96% of related deaths. The devastating impact of this disease is the third leading cause of deaths among young children between one month and 5 years of age. However, a breakthrough world’s first malaria vaccine recently introduced first to Cameroon, Africa is expected to save thousands of lives. The vaccine required a total of 4 doses, a regime that health officials assure will be administered alongside routine childhood vaccines.

The region’s struggle against this disease has been compounded by factors such as limited access to healthcare, socio-economic challenges, and environmental conditions conducive to the breeding of malaria-carrying mosquitoes. Since the introduction of the vaccine, there has been a 13% reduction in deaths. The vaccine has been allocated to 12 different African countries, presenting a significant step to reduce the impact of malaria upon vulnerable people.

Cameroonian Doctor Shalom Ndoula, a key figure in the vaccine rollout, expressed optimism about the potential impact of this initiative on malaria cases and deaths. “We have the capacity to considerably reduce the number of cases and deaths from malaria and accelerate the elimination of the disease,” he stated, highlighting the importance of a multifaceted approach.

The progress with the first ever malaria vaccine has paved the way for further development within the field. The anticipated rollout of a second jab, the “R21” vaccine developed by Oxford University, holds promise of significantly increasing available doses. This development is crucial in expanding the reach of malaria prevention efforts.

As the vaccine becomes more widely accessible, it brings hope for a future where malaria is no longer a leading cause of death among vulnerable populations.