Africa pins hopes on malaria vaccine

‘Massive breakthrough’

08 November 2021 | Health

Pierre Donadieu

A ground-breaking vaccine against malaria has stoked hopes in Africa of rolling back a disease that claims hundreds of thousands of lives a year, many of them youngsters. Since 2019, Ghana, Kenya and Malawi have immunised more than 800 000 children under a pilot programme using the RTS,S vaccine. It is the first to show significant protection against the parasite-borne disease, cutting the risk of severe malaria by 30%, trials have shown. On October 9, the World Health Organisation (WHO), after sifting through the results of the pilot scheme, recommended the vaccine for children aged above five months in locations with malaria risk. Some 260 000 children under five die from malaria each year in Africa, which accounts for about 90% of the global caseload.

"From a scientific perspective this is a massive breakthrough," said Pedro Alonso, director of the WHO Global Malaria Programme. Djermakoye Hadiza Jackou, coordinator of Niger's National Malaria Control Programme (PNLP), said the WHO announcement was "welcomed with great joy." "This is something that was eagerly awaited." Pointing to a major issue in vaccine rollouts, the WHO said it found "strong" public demand for the jab. The vaccine is made by the British pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), with the commercial name of Mosquirix.


Many parents who spoke to AFP also warmly supported the vaccine, although some were hesitant about possible side effects. "I'm super excited about it," said Hajia Aminu Bawa in southern Ghana's Gomoa region, the mother of an 11-month-old girl. "My child took the vaccine and nothing happened ... I want to encourage every family with children below age two to go for the vaccine because it will go a long way to save lives." The vaccine aims to trigger the immune system to defend against the first stages of malaria.

The WHO says that the main side effects can include soreness at the injection site and fever, a similar reaction seen in other vaccines given to children. Prince Gyamfi, the mother of a six-month-old boy in Gomoa, said she didn't hesitate to get her child vaccinated. "I have read about vaccines and how they work. I voluntarily came to vaccinate my child and so far nothing has happened," she said. "Some people discouraged me from giving him the vaccine because they said it's new and can kill him but I think they said it out of ignorance."

In Niger, which was not included in the pilot programme, AFP spoke to a mother named Fati, who was waiting outside a private clinic in Niamey, where her child was hospitalised with a new bout of malaria. "When the vaccine arrives, it will be a great relief," she said. "Malaria kills our children and it doesn't spare their parents, either."


In neighbouring Burkina Faso, another vaccine developed by Britain's University of Oxford in cooperation with the US firm Novavax has also shown promising effectiveness after a clinical trial in 2019. But Niger's Jackou and others cautioned against reliance on just a partial vaccine shield. It is crucial to maintain time-honoured prevention techniques such as distributing insecticide-treated bed nets and early use of drugs to treat infection, they said. In Burkina Faso's capital Ouagadougou, these methods have been widely introduced since 2014, "reducing malaria-linked deaths by 25% to 30%," said Wilfried Sawadogo, a local doctor. Another enduring problem in malarial regions in Sub-Saharan Africa is drainage - fighting the conditions that enable the Anopheles mosquito to breed and spread the parasite when it bites a human for a meal. "If we die of malaria in Africa, it is because we live in totally unhealthy conditions, which means mosquitoes," said Ousmane Danbadji, a sanitation specialist in Niger.


The WHO announcement has raised the big issues of access to money and technology. "Who is going to finance [a rollout]? Is the international community willing? That's the first question. And will there be sufficient quantities?" asked Serge Assi, a researcher at the Pierre Richet Institute in Bouake in central Ivory Coast. Christian Happi, director of the African Centre of Excellence for Genomics of Infectious Diseases in Ede, southwest Nigeria, said it was time for Africa to manufacture the vaccine and not just buy it. "It is now up to Africa to grasp this technology, this knowledge, and produce vaccines rather than import them," he said. "This is a major challenge."


Similar News


More than the absence of mental disorders

13 hours ago | Health

Ideally, it is a state of mental well-being in which people cope well with the many stresses of life, can realize their own potential, and...

No lives lost to hepatitis-E in 2021

1 week ago - 06 January 2022 | Health

Windhoek ∙ Jana-Mari Smith Namibia’s hepatitis-E outbreak claimed zero lives in 2021, compared to four deaths recorded in 2020 and 23 fatalities in 2019.Between September...

Nearly 2 000 children vaccinated against Covid-19

1 week ago - 04 January 2022 | Health

Windhoek ∙ [email protected] By Sunday, 2 January, a total of 1 945 Namibian children aged between 12 and 17 years had received the Pfizer...

Mother of stillborn baby claims neglect by hospital staff

2 weeks ago - 28 December 2021 | Health

Swakopmund • [email protected] The births of ‘Christmas’ babies are celebrated and publicised annually.For Hailey Kotze, it was rather a case of mourning than celebrating...

High risk of HIV infections among Namibian girls

3 weeks ago - 23 December 2021 | Health

Windhoek Jana-Mari Smith Widespread exposure to abuse and violence, alcohol use and other risk factors mean that close to two-thirds of Namibian girls face...

NIP receives genomic sequencing machine

3 weeks ago - 23 December 2021 | Health

Windhoek • Ester Kamati The Namibia Institute of Pathology (NIP) will soon become just the second Namibian institution to carry out genomic sequencing after receiving...

Did HIV help Omicron evolve?

3 weeks ago - 21 December 2021 | Health

People with impaired immunity take longer to clear a SARS-CoV-2 infection, giving the virus more opportunity to mutate. Medical News Today investigated whether the high...

One third of men unaware of positive status

1 month - 09 December 2021 | Health

The analysis was made using results from nationally representative household surveys carried out from 2015 to 2019 in Namibia, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Kenya,...

Eighteen Omicron cases detected in Namibia

1 month - 06 December 2021 | Health

Walvis Bay • [email protected] President Hage Geingob issued a stern warning to residents at the 37th press briefing on National Covid measures today....

Hepatitis E cases drop significantly

1 month - 29 November 2021 | Health

Windhoek • Ellanie Smit Hepatitis E cases in Namibia have shown a major decline since the outbreak started in 2017, while deaths have...

Latest News

The Audi Q5, SQ5 Sportback

13 hours ago | Motors

Following the Q3 Sportback and the e-tron Sportback, Audi now presents its third crossover utility vehicle, the first-ever Q5 Sportback. This coupé with dynamic lines...

Drones delivering to your doorstep

13 hours ago | Technology

Windhoek • [email protected] Namibia will most likely start using drones to deliver medicine to remote locations within the next few weeks.This comes after a...

More than the absence of...

13 hours ago | Health

Ideally, it is a state of mental well-being in which people cope well with the many stresses of life, can realize their own potential, and...

Suspected avian flu being investigated

2 days ago - 14 January 2022 | Environment

Swakopmund • [email protected] Following a major outbreak of avian influenza in South Africa’s Western Cape a few months ago that killed almost 25 000...

Taxi-tariff guide gives legal footing

2 days ago - 14 January 2022 | Infrastructure

Walvis Bay • [email protected] The recently published taxi-tariff guide by the Namibia Bus and Taxi Association (Nabta) to accompany the official taxi-tariff hike...

Boggelrugwalvis spoel uit

2 days ago - 14 January 2022 | Picture of the day

'n Boggelrugwalvis het gister laatmiddag by Langstrand Uitbreiding 1 tussen Swakopmund en Walvisbaai uitgespoel. Volgens 'n inwoner het die dooie walvis met laegety teen 'n...

Van Walvis tot wêreldklas animasieregisseur

2 days ago - 14 January 2022 | Art and Entertainment

Windhoek ∙ [email protected] Die Namibies gebore Reginald Amukoshi Emvula was een van die regisseurs van die animasiefilm Encanto wat Maandagoggend die Golden Globe-toekenning vir...

Maybe I was wrong –...

2 days ago - 14 January 2022 | Police

Windhoek ∙ Mathias Haufiku Police chief Sebastian Ndeitunga yesterday said he might have acted ‘ultra vires’ when he issued an internal memo to...

Shangula lambasts anti-vaxxers

2 days ago - 14 January 2022 | Ministries

Health and social services minister Kalumbi Shangula has implored vaccine sceptics to abandon the anti-vaccine campaign and to join the nation to successfully fight Covid-19...

Load More