Geneva: The world’s first malaria vaccine has been launched in Malawi after concerted efforts of over 30 years to protect children from the deadly disease that claims over 435,000 lives globally every year.
The World Health Organization (WHO) welcomed the Government of Malawi's landmark pilot programme.
The launch of the first and only malaria vaccine, known as RTS,S, makes Malawi the first of three countries in Africa where it will be made available to children up to 2 years of age.
Ghana and Kenya will introduce the vaccine in the coming weeks, WHO said in a statement.
Malaria remains one of the world's leading killers, claiming the life of one child every two minutes. Most of these deaths are in Africa, where more than 250,000 children die from the disease every year. WHO estimates that India accounts for 89 per cent malaria cases in South-East Asia.
According to National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme (NVBDCP), 1,090,724 cases and 331 deaths due to malaria were reported during 2016 in the country.
Children under five are at greatest risk of its life-threatening complications. Worldwide, malaria kills 435 000 people a year, most of them children.
“We have seen tremendous gains from bed nets and other measures to control malaria in the last 15 years, but progress has stalled and even reversed in some areas,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General.
“We need new solutions to get the malaria response back on track, and this vaccine gives us a promising tool to get there. The malaria vaccine has the potential to save tens of thousands of children's lives,” Ghebreyesus said in a statement....