More access points for malaria vaccine

A child receiving malaria vaccine
  • More than 400,000 children across 11 districts have received at least one dose of the four-dose malaria vaccine.

Effective 29th November 2022, Malaria vaccines will be provided in all areas within the 11 districts of the country where it was already provided for since April 2019.

The expansion follows the 2021 World Health Organization (WHO) recommendation for broader use of the vaccine among children in the Sub-Saharan Africa region and in other regions with moderate to high transmission of Plasmodium Falciparum.

A statement signed by Secretary for Health Dr. Charles Mwansambo indicated that Malawi, Ghana and Kenya are the three countries where the RTS, S Malaria vaccine is already in use.

This follows the pilot introduction in parts of the country in 2019 in Karonga, Nkhata Bay, Ntchisi, Mchinji, Lilongwe rural, Mangochi, Machinga, Balaka, Phalombe, Chikwawa and Nsanje districts.

 “Since then, more than 400,000 children across 11 districts in Malawi have received at least one dose of the four-dose malaria vaccine. Across the three countries, more than one million children have received at least one dose of the Malaria vaccine. Since April 2019, Malawi’s immunization programme has provided the malaria vaccine as part of its routine immunization services in selected health facilities in 11 districts.

NETS
Besides getting the vaccine, the use of mosquito nets is also encouraged

“The expansion to all these areas in these districts means that all eligible children in these districts will be receiving the vaccine. This initial expansion of the Malaria vaccine introduction is being supported by PATH, with funding from the US-based Open Philanthropythrough GiveWell”.

The jab now becomes one of the WHO’s recommended interventions to prevent malaria in children alongside other methods such as use of long-lasting insecticide treated bed nets (LLINs), indoor residual spraying and preventive treatment of the disease in pregnancy.

Dr. Mwansambo stressed that the injection is not an exclusively stand-alone prevention against the disease.

“This entails that even if a child received the Malaria vaccine, there is need to continue using other malaria prevention measures, including sleeping under a LLIN as one prevention measures, including sleeping under a LLIN as no one prevention measure can combat malaria alone. A combination of more prevention measures is therefore needed”.

The first dose of the malaria vaccine is administered at five months, followed by a second one at 6 months, third dose at 7 months and the last one at 22 months.

Parents and caregivers of all children eligible are being encouraged to utilize this opportunity to take them to health facilities for them to get immunized according to the prescribed schedule.