In a path-breaking development world’s first and only malaria vaccine was launched by the World Health Organization (WHO) in Malawi, earlier this week. This landmark pilot program of WHO aims to protect, in particular, hundreds of thousands of children under five against one of the world’s leading killers.
Malaria remains one of the world’s leading killers, claiming the life of one child every two minutes, according to WHO statistics. Most of these deaths are in Africa, where more than 250,000 children die from the disease every year. Children under five are at greatest risk of its life-threatening complications. Worldwide, malaria kills 4,35,000 people a year, most of them children.
Thirty years in the making, RTS,S is the first and to date the only vaccine that has demonstrated it can significantly reduce malaria in children, according to the WHO. In clinical trials, the vaccine was found to prevent about four in ten malaria cases, including three in ten cases of life-threatening severe malaria, reports Xinhua news agency.
Malawi is the first of three in Africa where RTS,S is to be made available to children up to two years of age. Ghana and Kenya will introduce the vaccine in the coming weeks.