Cameroon begins vaccinating children against malaria

Cameroon becomes the first country in the world to systematically vaccinate against malaria. With the start of the immunization campaign, thousands of children under 5 years of age will be immunized with two vaccines recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO): RTS,S/AS01 and R21/Matrix-M.

WHO called the move a “historic milestone” and thirty other African countries are expected to follow suit. protect your child population. Aurelia Nguyen, Program Director, Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI)announced that Cameroon will use the RTS,S/AS01 vaccine in 42 districts, ensuring its availability even among the highest-risk populations. The strategy is part of a comprehensive plan to prevent half a million deaths from malaria each year in Africa.

Kate O’Brien, Director of the Department of Immunization, Vaccines and Biologicals, WHO: highlights clinical trial data showing vaccines reduce clinical cases of malaria. In addition, he adds that when applied seasonally, the effectiveness increases by 75 percent.

With more than 250 million cases of malaria each year, introducing a childhood vaccine with this level of effectiveness could potentially lead to a significant reduction in the incidence of the disease and its deadly consequences. Both vaccines have also been shown to have satisfactory safety profiles.

These new malaria vaccines will be included in the childhood vaccination schedule, with three doses given starting at five months of age and a fourth dose in the second year of life. This guidance is part of WHO recommendations from 2 October 2023 calling for the use of both the RTS,S/AS01 vaccine from GSK and the R21/Matrix-M vaccine from the Serum Institute of India (SII).

Increasing number of cases

Cameroon is becoming the starting point for this initiative due to a 30 percent increase in malaria cases since 2017 and the fact that approximately three out of ten hospital consultations in the country are related to the disease.. Vaccination will not only save lives, but will also reduce the burden on the healthcare system and provide greater relief to affected families.

In this sense, GAVI emphasizes that the mass immunization campaign against malaria brings not only health benefits, but also economic benefits throughout the African continent. Mohammed Abdulaziz, chief of the Division of Disease Control and Prevention at the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), emphasizes that the day marks an important milestone in the historic fight against malaria in Africa, a disease with serious health and economic consequences. The vaccine demonstrated its effectiveness in children aged 5 to 7 months: more than 6,500 clinical cases were prevented per 1,000 children vaccinated.

The African continent accounts for 94 percent of the world’s malaria cases, with just six countries accounting for nearly half of these cases. The inclusion of malaria vaccine in the childhood immunization schedule is considered a strategic change in the fight against this disease., complicated by insecticide resistance and the effects of climate change. In addition to being a leading cause of school absence, malaria also contributes to anemia and impaired cognitive development in African children.

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