African country Malawi became the first to immunise children against Malaria through the vaccine ‘RTS,S’ (Mosquirix) under the WHO-coordinated Malaria vaccine pilot programme.
Malawi is also the first of three countries in Africa in which the vaccine RTS,S will be made available to children up to 2 years of age; Ghana and Kenya will introduce the vaccine later.
Malaria remains one of the world’s leading killers, claiming the life of one child every two minutes. It took thirty years for the scientists to develop the RTS,S vaccine that has demonstrated it can significantly reduce malaria in children. During the clinical trials, the vaccine proved to prevent around 4 in 10 malaria cases, including 3 in 10 cases of life-threatening severe malaria.
Malaria is caused by a Plasmodium Parasites that is transmitted from one human to another by the bite of infected Anopheles mosquitoes. In humans, the parasites (called sporozoites) migrate to the liver where they mature and release another form, the merozoites.