Geneva, Jan 22 (EFE).- Central African country Cameroon on Monday began the world’s first vaccination campaign for children against malaria, the mosquito-borne disease that kills hundreds of thousands in Africa every year.
Children in 42 districts of Cameroon will receive the RTS,S vaccine, which was successfully tested in pilot programs in Kenya, Ghana and Malawi between 2019 and 2023, according to global vaccine alliance Gavi.
The chief programme officer at Gavi, Aurelia Nguyen, described the vaccine as a new weapon in fighting malaria.
More than 30 African countries have shown interest in the vaccine, which would reach 6.6 million children on the continent in 2024, she added.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), there were 249 million malaria cases and 608,000 deaths in 2022, with the African region bearing a disproportionately high share of the global malaria burden.
“In 2022, the region was home to about 94 percent of all malaria cases and 95 percent of deaths,” WHO said, adding that children under five years accounted for about 78 percent of all malaria deaths in the continent.
However, GAVI and WHO warned that the progress made in fighting malaria in the last two decades, with a one-third reduction in deaths since 2000, is threatened by climate change.
The global rise in temperatures could expand the habitat of the Anopheles mosquito, which transmits the disease, for example, to higher altitude areas of the African continent. EFE