Kenya becomes 3rd country to roll out malaria vaccine

Health

A health worker vaccinates a child against malaria in Homabay County, western Kenya, Friday Sept.13, 2019. The vaccine is the world’s first for malaria and has been rolled out in Kenya, Ghana, and Malawi by the World Health Organisation. (AP Photo/Joseph Oduor)

KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) — Health authorities in Kenya on Friday started administering doses of the world’s only licensed malaria vaccine to young children in rural areas facing high transmission rates.

Kenya became the third African country to introduce the vaccine, after Malawi and Ghana. The aim is to reach about 360,000 children per year across the three countries.

The health ministry described the milestone on Twitter as “a historic day” for the East African country as the health minister launched vaccinations in remote Homa Bay county.

Malaria is a top killer in many African countries. According to the World Health Organization, the region accounted for 92% of the cases and 93% of malaria deaths in 2017.The parasitic disease kills about 435,000 people every year, most of them children under 5 in Africa.

The vaccine is the first and only vaccine to significantly reduce malaria in children, WHO said in a statement.

“Africa has witnessed a recent surge in the number of malaria cases and deaths. This threatens the gains in the fight against malaria made in the past two decades,” said Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa. “The ongoing pilots will provide the key information and data to inform a WHO policy on the broader use of the vaccine in sub-Saharan Africa. If introduced widely, the vaccine has the potential to save tens of thousands of lives.”

It took GlaxoSmithKline and partners more than 30 years to develop the vaccine, at a cost of around $1 billion. GSK is donating up to 10 million vaccine doses in the current vaccination initiatives.

Although the malaria vaccine only protects about one-third of children who are immunized, those who get the shots are likely to have less severe cases of malaria.

“I am sure the vaccine will help in reducing malaria and will cut the cost of going to the hospital every now and then,” said Newton Kawinio, a local traditional chief.

“By reducing the number of cases of malaria by 40% in the area where this has been rolled out, we are going to free up the number of resources in terms of health care workers in order to address other diseases, we are gonna save a tremendous number of lives,” said Dr. Aaron Samuels with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “For every 200 children vaccinated, it’s estimated that one child’s life will be saved.”

Experts have begun testing out other new tools to fight malaria, including the development of genetically modified mosquitoes with an infertility gene.

Resistance is growing to medicines that treat the disease, while mosquitoes are becoming more resistant to insecticides. In addition, funding for malaria efforts has plateaued in recent years.

In neighboring Uganda, health officials last month reported a surge in malaria cases as cases rise even among adolescents. They cited global warming and longer wet seasons for the increase.

___

Follow Africa news at https://twitter.com/AP_Africa

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Don't Miss

More Don't Miss

Trending Stories

Turkey Day Giveaway

Days

Hours

Minutes

Seconds

Recent Videos

Rage Yoga

Thumbnail for the video titled "Rage Yoga"

First Step remembers those who faced domestic violence at annual Domestic Violence Awareness Month vigil

Thumbnail for the video titled "First Step remembers those who faced domestic violence at annual Domestic Violence Awareness Month vigil"

First Step remembers those who faced domestic violence at annual Domestic Violence Awareness Month vigil

Thumbnail for the video titled "First Step remembers those who faced domestic violence at annual Domestic Violence Awareness Month vigil"

Lawton, WF Chambers of Commerce officials talk 2020 economic growth plans

Thumbnail for the video titled "Lawton, WF Chambers of Commerce officials talk 2020 economic growth plans"

Texoma officials to recognize 'Imagine a Day Without Water' to emphasize conservation

Thumbnail for the video titled "Texoma officials to recognize 'Imagine a Day Without Water' to emphasize conservation"

Prop 4 would make it harder for Texas to implement personal income tax

Thumbnail for the video titled "Prop 4 would make it harder for Texas to implement personal income tax"

Search for 90-pound Texoma tortoise sparks social media storm

Thumbnail for the video titled "Search for 90-pound Texoma tortoise sparks social media storm"

WFPD investigates church vandalism

Thumbnail for the video titled "WFPD investigates church vandalism"

UPDATE: 32 animals seized from Wichita Co. residence

Thumbnail for the video titled "UPDATE: 32 animals seized from Wichita Co. residence"

4-year-old saves drowning sister

Thumbnail for the video titled "4-year-old saves drowning sister"

Pure Horror: Blood flood fills Iowa family's basement!

Thumbnail for the video titled "Pure Horror: Blood flood fills Iowa family's basement!"

Fighting For Their Flag: Family Takes On HOA

Thumbnail for the video titled "Fighting For Their Flag: Family Takes On HOA"
Get FREE Text Alerts
Report It

Latest News

More Local News