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 on Wednesday 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 the 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.”
“This is a powerful new tool, but like COVID-19 vaccines, it’s not the only tool”, stressed Tedros. Vaccination against malaria does not replace or reduce the need for other measures, including bednets, or seeking care for fever.” More