The government of Malawi launched the world’s first malaria vaccine on 23 April 2019 in a landmark pilot programme. The vaccine, known as RTS,S, will be made available to children up to two years of age. Ghana and Kenya will also introduce the vaccine in the coming weeks.
Malaria remains one of the world’s leading killers, claiming the life of one child every two minutes. Most of these deaths are in Africa, where more than 250,000 children die from the disease every year. Children under five years of age are at greatest risk of its life-threatening complications. Worldwide, malaria kills 435,000 people a year, most of them children.
RTS,S has taken 30 years to develop and is the first and only vaccine that has demonstrated it can significantly reduce malaria in children. In clinical trials, the vaccine was found to prevent approximately four-in-ten malaria cases, including three-in-ten cases of life-threatening severe malaria.
Financing for the pilot programme was raised through collaboration between three key global health funding bodies: Gavi the Vaccine Alliance, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and Unitaid. Additionally, the World Health Organization (WHO), PATH and GlaxoSmitKline (GSK) are providing in-kind contributions.
Source: WHO, 23 April 2019