The malaria vaccine offers hope in the fight against the killer disease
Hospital visits and hospitalizations due to malaria represent a financial burden for vulnerable people and the countries in which they live.
In Malawi, as in other sub-Saharan African countries, almost 60 percent of visits to outpatient health facilities for children are due to malaria.
However, data from the Chileka Health Center in Lilongwe, the capital of Malawi, indicate a decrease in hospital admissions for malaria among children under the age of five since the vaccine was introduced: this decline could be due to the vaccine against the malaria.
"Since the malaria vaccine was introduced, it may have been successful in keeping many children out of the hospital," says Madalitso Chadewa, a senior health surveillance assistant at Chileka Health Center.
Ms. Chadewa says the pilot project has also improved routine immunization. Prior to the pilot project, most mothers stopped their clinic visits under the age of five, when their children received the last measles injection at 15 months. But the malaria vaccine extended the immunization period to 22 months of age, resulting in follow-up at that age and / or later.
The UN supported the Malawi Ministry of Health to ensure the continuity of essential immunization and malaria services during the COVID-19 pandemic, including malaria vaccination in pilot districts. The malaria vaccine pilot project continued without major interruptions.
Malaria vaccine data and experience will provide insight into how best to reach children with the four-dose vaccine regimen, the vaccine's impact on severe malaria and lives saved, and the safety of the vaccine in routine use. . So far, the accumulated safety data is very reassuring.
Community vaccine acceptance is high and the program is now on track for a data review and potential WHO vaccine recommendation for wider use in sub-Saharan Africa as early as October 2021. If the vaccine were recommended for wider use, it could be a powerful new aid in fighting malaria.
The malaria vaccine implementation program in the African region stems from the United Nations partnership with Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and Unitaid.
For more information, visit the Malaria Vaccine Implementation Program website.