After more than three decades of work and almost $1 billion (about K750 billion) of investment, GlaxoSmithKline Plc and its partners are ready to deploy a vaccine for malaria, the mosquito-borne disease that kills almost half a million people each year.
The vaccine, developed with the non-profit organisation PATH, comes at a critical time and marks a milestone in the battle against the parasite that causes malaria.
Malawi is one of the countries which has been piloted for the launch of the first ever parasitic Malaria Vaccine scheduled for Tuesday.
In an interview with Kulinji.com, programme manager for the National Immunisation Programme Temwa Mzengeza explained that as is the practice in medicine, the exercise will be done to assess its impact, efficacy and safety.
Targeting children aged less than two years, the vaccine will be introduced at Mitundu Health Centre with stakeholders witnessing the first five children being vaccinated.
The vaccine is a donation from partners such as Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI) pumping in $27.5 Million, Global Fund donating $16 Million and $9.6 million from the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), in the three targeted countries of Malawi, Kenya and Ghana.
There is an expectation that once it rolls out, 600 deaths and 139,000 cases of malaria will be prevented for the two-and-a-half-year period it will be piloted.
The programme manager stated that awareness has been sent to the public by the Health Education Unit to allay the fears that may be there, adding that guardians have responded positively.
Mzengeza explained that the country qualified for the vaccination after submitting its application, having looked at its interventions put in place to fight the disease which continues to claim lives.
She urged parents and mothers to take the children from five months to the nearest vaccination site to have them vaccinated.
The 11 districts set to benefit from the vaccine are Karonga, Nkhata Bay, Lilongwe, Mchinji, Balaka Mangochi, Phalombe, Chikwawa and Ntchisi.
The vaccine, developed with the non-profit organization PATH, comes at a critical time and marks a milestone in the battle against the parasite that causes malaria.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the vaccine brings a key new tool beyond mosquito nets, insecticides and drugs in the battle against a disease that it estimates killed 435,000 people in 2017 with children under the age of five in Africa being particularly vulnerable, accounting for about two-thirds of all deaths.