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BREAKTHROUGH IN MALARIA VACCINE 

PHOTO: CONTRIBUTED

By: Julia Heita

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has announced the approval of a Malaria Vaccine called Mosquirix (RTS, S).

The malaria vaccine, RTS, S, acts against P. falciparum, the deadliest malaria parasite globally and the most prevalent in Africa.

Statistics from the National Vector-borne Diseases Control Program in Namibia show that 12,507 malaria cases were recorded, with 40 deaths this year alone.

Former health minister Richard Kamwi said the development of the first-generation vaccine against a human parasite is a considerable achievement.

“The parasites are more complex than viruses or bacteria. Many scientists have been working toward the goal of getting a vaccine for over 30 years now.”

Kamwi He said that the WHO is mandated to look at the health of the population Globally.

“The researchers who mainly come from the developed world working together with African scientists as well as member states WHO cleared the research.”

WHO is recommended the widespread use of the RTS, S/AS01 (RTS, S) malaria vaccine among children in sub-Saharan Africa and other regions with moderate to high P. falciparum malaria transmission? The recommendation is based on results from an ongoing pilot programme in Ghana, Kenya and Malawi that has reached more than 800 000 children since 2019.

Kamwi said that 90% of the malaria cases recorded are from Sub Saharan Africa, the epicentre, targeting mainly under five-year-old children.

Ministry of health Executive Director Ben Nangombe said that vaccinations help countries fight diseases in pandemics.

“If there is a vaccine that is approved and can help us reduce the incidence of malaria in a country, then it is a welcome development.”

Nangobe said since the vaccine has just been approved, the ministry has yet to engage the stakeholders, look at the availability and extended programme on immunisation, and apply their minds to the idea and later decide whether to buy it or not.

He explained that the vaccine would only be efficient depending on the willingness of people to take the vaccine. He also said that Namibia has a high Malaria burden, and they will work on acquiring and rolling out the vaccine.

WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said this is a historic moment and a breakthrough for science.

“Using this vaccine on top of existing tools to prevent malaria could save tens of thousands of young lives each year.”

Julia Heita

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