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Malaria vaccine comes to Cameroon

Every year, the disease affects 2.7 million people in the African country

Yaounde’s Nsimalen International Airport received 331,200 doses of Mosquirix late Tuesday, making Cameroon the first African country to obtain a large shipment of the malaria vaccine manufactured by British drugmaker GSK following its approval by the World Health Organization (WHO) in autumn 2021. 

Mosquirix is the trade name of RTS,S – the world’s first malaria vaccine. A pilot program started in 2019 delivered doses to over 800,000 children in Ghana, Kenya, and Malawi. 

According to the WHO, there were 247 million malaria cases worldwide in 2021, leading to 619,000 deaths; 77 percent of those killed by the virus were children under age five. Africa accounted for approximately 95% of global malaria cases and 96% of related deaths that year.

Cameroonian Health Minister Manaouda Malachie claimed that the initial vaccine shipment will be distributed in the 42 of the country’s 203 districts which are worst affected by the disease. He has stated that the doses will only be given to children aged 6 to 24 months.

“Cameroon is one of 11 countries that still have a fairly heavy burden in terms of mortality linked to malaria and we especially lose newborns,” Malachie said. 

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“It is a celebration for Cameroon to receive this first dose of vaccine, the number of doses are going to increase progressively. This year, it will be about 4 million, next year, 6 million, the year after, 8 million,” the health minister claimed. “We lose many compatriots who die because of this disease. Today, we have a vaccine which comes to add to the panoply of measures already rolled out,” he added.

Catherine Russell, executive director of the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), claimed that the new vaccine changes “the game in our fight against malaria.” Introducing the Mosquirix vaccine is “like adding a star player to the pitch,” she added. 

In July, the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI), WHO and UNICEF announced that 18 million doses of the malaria vaccine would be delivered to 12 African countries in 2023-2025. These are Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Liberia, Niger, Sierra Leone and Uganda, in addition to Ghana, Kenya, and Malawi, which took part in the pilot program. 

In the near future, Burkina Faso, Liberia, Niger, and Sierra Leone will receive 1.7 million doses of the vaccine, UNICEF reported.  The organization added that “more than 2 billion people are currently infected with the Plasmodium parasite (malaria), which is spread to people through the bites of female Anopheles mosquitoes infected with it.”

November 24, 2023 at 04:29PM

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