Kenya introduces malaria vaccine to fight surge in deaths

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Kenya has become the third African nation to introduce a malaria vaccine for babies and toddlers.

The same vaccine has already been introduced as part of a pilot programme in Ghana and Malawi in a bid to fight a recent surge in cases and deaths related to the disease. While the vaccine has only proven to be partially effective in trials, it’s the first vaccine of its kind to be approved by regulators.

Kenya introduces malaria vaccine

Malaria kills one child every two minutes globally and remains the biggest killer of children under the age of five in much of Africa – including Kenya. The disease infected roughly 219 million people in 2017 and killed around 435,000 with the vast majority of deaths being babies and young children in the poorest parts of Africa.

Despite significant progress in preventing cases in recent decades, numbers are on the rise again. Mosquitoes who transmit the disease from one human to another are becoming increasingly resistant to repellants and the pollution prevalent in cities while the disease itself is becoming resistant to antimalarial drugs in many parts of the world.

Meanwhile, Mosquito nets given to people in many African nations, as part of earlier drives to tackle the disease, have become worn or damage with many people unable to replace them.

The vaccine being introduced in Kenya is called Mosquirix (RTS,S) developed by British drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline. It needs to be administered over four doses and only provides limited protection against malaria but the World Health Organization has said it could save tens of thousands of lives.

Featured image: Public domain

About Aaron Brooks

Aaron Brooks is a UK journalist who wants to cut out the international agendas in news. Spending his early years in both England and Northern Ireland he saw the difference between reality and media coverage at an early age. After graduating from the University of Chester with a BA in journalism, his travels revealed just how large the gap between news and the real world can be. As Editor-in-Chief at East Africa Monitor, it’s his job to provide a balanced view of what’s going on in the region for English-speaking audiences.