Twelve African Countries to Receive Malaria Vaccine, Nigeria Excluded

In a significant development, the World Health Organization (WHO), Global Vaccine Alliance (GAVI), and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) have revealed that twelve African countries will soon receive the first-ever vaccine against malaria. In a statement released on Wednesday, the agencies announced that these nations are slated to receive a total of eighteen million doses of the RTS,S vaccine over the next two years.

Since its introduction four years ago, the RTS,S vaccine has been administered to over 1.6 million children in Kenya, Ghana, and Malawi, where it has demonstrated both safety and efficacy. This groundbreaking vaccine has led to a considerable reduction in severe malaria cases and a decline in child mortality rates.

Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus, the Director-General of WHO, highlighted that malaria remains one of the deadliest diseases in Africa, claiming the lives of nearly 500,000 children under the age of five each year and accounting for approximately 96 percent of global malaria deaths in 2021. He further emphasized the urgent need for action, given the changing weather patterns caused by the climate crisis, which has led to an increased density and geographical spread of disease-carrying mosquitoes.

At least 28 African countries have expressed interest in receiving the malaria vaccine. The initial allocation of eighteen million doses will enable nine additional African countries to introduce the malaria vaccine into their routine immunization programs for the first time. These countries include the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burkina Faso, Niger, Uganda, Benin, Liberia, Burundi, Sierra Leone, and Cameroon.

The first shipment of doses is expected to arrive in the last quarter of this year, with rollout preparations set to commence in early 2024. This momentous step in combating malaria in Africa holds the potential to save countless lives and contribute to a significant reduction in the burden of the disease across the continent.

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