Big News from Cameroon: Launches World's First Malaria Vaccination Program

Written by Henrik Rothen

Jan.22 - 2024 11:11 AM CET

Cameroon launches world's first Malaria vaccination program.

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Cameroon has embarked on a historic journey as the first country to launch a systematic vaccination program against malaria. This milestone event, reported by Reuters, marks a significant step in the battle against a disease that has plagued humanity for ages.

According to Reuters, the malaria vaccine, named "RTT,T," is a culmination of 40 years of dedicated research and development efforts, primarily led by the British pharmaceutical giant GSK. This initiative is part of a broader vaccine program spearheaded by the international vaccine alliance, Gavi, targeting children in particular.

This groundbreaking program is set to expand beyond Cameroon to 19 other countries. Its ambitious goal is to vaccinate 6.6 million children during 2024 and 2025, recognizing the critical need to protect this vulnerable age group. Children are particularly susceptible to malaria, a disease transmitted by mosquitoes and characterized by a parasite infecting red blood cells. Symptoms often include fever, chills, dizziness, and aching muscles and joints. If left untreated, malaria can lead to severe health complications like anemia, liver failure, and kidney failure.

Despite the vaccine's monumental role in combating malaria, it won't be the sole defense mechanism. It's planned to complement existing preventative measures, such as mosquito nets, to further minimize the risk of mosquito bites.

The urgency of this vaccine program is underscored by staggering statistics from the World Health Organization (WHO). Nearly half a million African children under five die annually from malaria. Moreover, a concerning increase in malaria cases, jumping by five million from 2021 to 2022, has been reported by Reuters. This surge is attributed to challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and growing resistance to insecticides, making malaria control more difficult.

The WHO has identified malaria as a leading cause of illness and death in children in sub-Saharan Africa. A 2020 WHO report revealed that almost half a million African children were infected and died from malaria that year.

In the coming months, the RTT,T vaccine is expected to be joined by another promising candidate, R21, developed by Oxford University. According to Gavi, as reported by Reuters, the R21 vaccine is anticipated to roll out around May or June, adding a critical tool in the ongoing fight against this deadly disease.