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African countries to receive 18 mln doses of malaria vaccine for children

By Xinhua

NAIROBI,July 7 (Xinhua) -- Twelve African countries will receive 18 million doses of malaria vaccine for children under the age of five, which will be rolled out in the next two years, multilateral institutions said on 
Thursday.A joint statement from the World Health Organization (WHO), Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance (GAVI), and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) said the deployment of 18 million malaria vaccine doses, also called RTS, S/AS01, for the 2023-2025 period, aims to protect children from severe illness and death.Kenya, Ghana and Malawi have since 2019 administered the malaria vaccine to more than 1.7 million children through the Malaria Vaccine Implementation Program coordinated by the WHO, GAVI, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and Unitaid, a global health 
lobby.The malaria vaccine has so far proved to be safe and effective, leading to asubstantial reduction in severe malaria and fatalities among children 
below five years.A
 health worker shows a rapid diagnostic test kit during a one-day 
malaria health camp in Kampala, Uganda, April 26, 2021. (Photo by 
Nicholas Kajoba/Xinhua)Nine
 more countries -- Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, the 
Democratic Republic of the Congo, Liberia, Niger, Sierra Leone and 
Uganda -- will receive the malaria vaccine and introduce it in their 
routine immunization programs for the first time."This
 vaccine has the potential to be very impactful in the fight against 
malaria, and when broadly deployed alongside other interventions, it can
 prevent tens of thousands of future deaths every year," said Thabani 
Maphosa, Gavi's managing director of country programs delivery.Maphosa
 added that multilateral institutions have partnered with manufacturers 
to help ramp up the supply of malaria vaccine doses in the high-endemic 
African nations.Malaria
 kills nearly half a million children below five years annually in the 
sub-Saharan African region, which accounted for an estimated 95 percent 
of global malaria cases and 96 percent of deaths in 2021, according to 
the WHO.Ephrem
 T. Lemango, associate director of immunization from UNICEF, noted that 
nearly every minute, a child under five years old dies of malaria in the
 continent, adding that the vaccine rollout will reduce severe cases and
 fatalities.A staff member sprays insecticides on the interior walls of a house in Ruhango District in southern Rwanda, April 21, 2023. (Rwanda Biomedical Center/Handout via Xinhua)A
 total of 28 African countries have expressed interest in administering 
the malaria vaccine, and multilateral partners have developed a 
framework for addressing equity amid limited supplies.Kate
 O'Brien, director of the WHO's Department of Immunization, Vaccines and
 Biologicals, said scaling up malaria immunization will improve child 
survival in Africa.  ■
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