World Vision Southern Africa has welcomed the WHO endorsement of the world’s first malaria vaccine in Africa;recognising the RTS,S/AS01 vaccine (also known as Mosquirix) as a historic breakthrough for the most vulnerable children across the region.
Malaria disproportionately affects the poor and most marginalised communities, as they are at highrisk and have the least access to effective services. Due to more vulnerable immune systems, children under 5 years old, pregnant women, and people living with HIV and AIDS are more susceptible to malaria.
“The development is historic for children under 5, who die every day due to malaria; a preventable disease. The vaccine could save thousands of children’s lives every year in Southern Africa”, said Mark Kelly, World Vision’s Regional Leader for Southern Africa.
The child-focused organisation is following through on its commitment to fight malaria until it is defeated. In August 2021, the Government of Malawi hailed World Vision’s support in the fight against malaria, as the organisation has safeguarded nearly two million people from the disease in Mangochi, Balaka and Nkhata Bay districts through an Indoor Residual Spray (IRS) project.
The IRSproject is being implemented in collaboration with the Ministry of Health, through funding from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
“We appeal for widespread availability for the RTS,S/AS01 vaccine particularly among communities with the most vulnerable children in the region after the successful pilot programme in three African countries”, Mr. Kelly further added.
Malaria is a major public health problem in Malawi, with an estimated 6 million cases recorded annually. For children under five years of age and pregnant women, it is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality. Currently, malaria accounts for over 30% of outpatient visits and 34% of in-patients (HMIS 2018).
“We commend the Malawi government for including the malaria vaccine amongst the key vaccines to be administered to children in the upcoming operations. Across Malawi, malariaslows down social and economic development. If we are to uplift people’s lives, it is imperative that we must do all we can to end malaria”, said Francis Dube, World Vision’s National Director for Malawi.
Dube further added that World Vision will work hand in hand with its key partners, including traditional and faith leaders, to promote acceptance and uptake of the vaccine.
In Malawi, like many other African countries where malaria is an issue, World Vision works to protect families from malaria infections – especially among pregnant women and children under age 5 – by providing long-lasting insecticide treated nets. World Vision also works to strengthen health systems to make sure families have access to proper key messages, diagnosis, treatment and care.
Malawi is among the top 20 countries with the highest malaria prevalence and mortality rates (2% of global cases and deaths). About 7.4% of all malaria cases in Eastern and Southern Africa occur in Malawi.
In 2017, the World Health Organisation (WHO) reported that five countries accounted for nearly half of all malaria cases worldwide. Four of them are in Africa: Nigeria (25%), DRC (11%), Mozambique (5%) and Uganda (4%).
There has been a decline in the incidence of malaria in Malawi, from 386 cases per 1000 population in 2016 to 286 per 100 in 2019, as well as a 43% reduction in the rate of mortality between 2015 and 2019. This decline is aligned with the Malawian Government’s efforts to eradicate malaria in the country by 2030, through the “Zero Malaria Starts with Me” campaign.