Following World Health Organization (WHO)’s endorsement of the world’s first malaria vaccine in Africa, World Vision Southern Africa has described the development as a significant breakthrough for the most vulnerable children across the region.
The UN agency recognizes the RTS, S/AS01 vaccine (also known as Mosquirix) against a background of about 7.4 percent of all malaria cases in Eastern and Southern Africa occurring in Malawi.
Being among the top 20 countries with the highest malaria prevalence and mortality rates with 2 percent of global cases and deaths occurring in Malawi, this disproportionately affects the poor and most marginalized communities, at high risk as they have the least access to effective services.
A press release from the organization noted that because of their vulnerable immune systems, children under 5 years old, pregnant women and people living with HIV and AIDS are therefore more susceptible to malaria.
“The development is historic for children under 5, who die every day due to malaria; a preventable disease. The vaccine could save thousands of children’s lives every year in Southern Africa.
“We appeal for widespread availability for the RTS, S/AS01 vaccine particularly among communities with the most vulnerable children in the region after the successful pilot programme in three African countries”, said Mark Kelly, World Vision’s Regional Leader for Southern Africa”
The child-focused organization indicated it is following through on its commitment to fighting the disease until it is defeated.
It has safeguarded nearly two million people from the condition in Mangochi, Balaka and Nkhata Bay districts through an Indoor Residual Spray (IRS) project.
The IRS project is being implemented in collaboration with the Ministry of Health, through funding from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
With an estimated 6 million cases recorded annually, Malaria is a major public health problem in the country particularly for children under five and pregnant women.
Statistics show it is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality. Currently, malaria accounts for over 30 percent of outpatient visits and 34 percent of in-patients.
World Vision’s National Director for Malawi Francis Dube further added the organization will work hand with its key partners, including traditional and faith leaders, to promote acceptance and uptake of the vaccine.
“We commend the Malawi government for including the malaria vaccine amongst the key vaccines to be administered to children in the upcoming operations. Across Malawi, malaria slows down social and economic development. If we are to uplift people’s lives, it is imperative that we must do all we can to end malaria”, stated Dube