Key Developments

Cameroon Launches World's First Malaria Vaccine Program

A baby girl named Daniella in Cameroon received the symbolic first jab, marking the world’s first-ever routine malaria vaccination program.

This landmark event, launched on January 22nd, 2024, signifies a crucial step towards saving countless children’s lives across Africa, a continent bearing the brunt of the mosquito-borne disease.

Every year, malaria claims the lives of 600,000 people in Africa, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Children under five are particularly vulnerable, constituting at least 80% of those fatalities.

However, a glimmer of hope emerges with the RTS,S vaccine, developed after 30 years of research by British drugmaker GSK.

The vaccine, requiring four doses administered alongside routine childhood vaccinations, has demonstrated promising results.

Pilot campaigns in Kenya, Ghana, and Malawi saw a 13% reduction in deaths among eligible children, according to UNICEF. US researchers estimate its efficacy at a minimum of 36%, potentially saving one in three lives.

While not a single solution, the jab acts as a valuable weapon in the anti-malaria arsenal.

Cameroonian doctor Shalom Ndoula, instrumental in the vaccine rollout, expressed optimism to BBC Newsday: “We have the capacity to significantly reduce the number of cases and deaths from malaria and accelerate the elimination of the disease.”

This pivotal moment comes amidst other encouraging developments.

Earlier this month, Cape Verde became the first sub-Saharan African nation in 50 years to be declared malaria-free by the WHO.

In 2021, Africa shouldered 95% of global malaria cases and 96% of related deaths.

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