The first malaria vaccine in the world for young children has been deployed in Western Kenya this month. It is also also being deployed in Ghana and Malawi. It is the first and only vaccine to significantly reduce malaria in children, including life-threatening malaria.
The vaccine, known as RTS,S, is an aid against malaria; the disease that still affects millions of children in Africa. Malaria kills more than 250,000 children under the age of five each year - that is one child every two minutes. The disease is a leading killer of children younger than 5 years in Kenya.
The pilot program is a routine vaccination schedule, and more than 300,000 children are expected to receive the vaccine in the next three years. The vaccination schedule for children is given in four doses - the first three doses between the ages of six and nine months, and the fourth dose at 24 months old. Drive Against Malaria will join the vaccination teams and the introduction of this pilot project in the coming months to see if the vaccinations are also suitable for families in remote areas.
Thirty years in the making, the vaccine is a complementary malaria control tool – to be added to the core package of WHO-recommended measures for malaria prevention, including the routine use of insecticide-treated bed nets, indoor spraying with insecticides and timely access to malaria testing and treatment.