14-09-2019 by redazione
Kenya started vaccinating children against malaria yesterday, becoming the third country in the world to apply the first pilot program approved by the World Health Organization to combat a disease that still kills tens of thousands of people around the world every year.
The vaccine - laboratory name RTS-S - addresses the most deadly and common form of malaria parasite in Africa, where children under the age of five account for two-thirds of all global deaths from mosquito-borne disease. Kenya thus joins Malawi and Ghana, which began their pilot vaccine programmes earlier this year.
The announcement was made by Kenya's Health Minister Sicily Kariuki, who specified that the vaccine will be introduced in stages in several areas of western Kenya near Lake Victoria, starting with Homa Bay.
"It is an exciting time for Kenya - said Kariuki - precisely because we are finally launching this vaccine, starting from an area of the country where the percentages of malaria is the highest.
The National Health Department predicts that about 120,000 Kenyan children will be vaccinated as part of the pilot program, during which the Government will also distribute mosquito nets treated with insecticide. At the end of this process, the vaccine developed by Glaxo Smith Cline, which began the studies to achieve this result almost thirty years ago, will be regularly marketed under the name Mosquirix.
For now, it will work exclusively for children, thus immunizing 27% of subjects who die every year from the infection with plasmodium falciparum in the blood.
In Kenya alone, as Minister Kariuki pointed out, more than 10,000 children under five died in 2016 and, despite the fact that malaria is falling significantly, deaths among local citizens, especially in certain areas such as lakes, are still dramatically topical.
"This vaccine is an additional tool that will increase Kenya's efforts to reduce malaria infections and deaths among children," Kariuki said.
During the experiments already carried out, as the WHO reported, the vaccine prevented four out of ten cases of malaria and prevented the disease from degenerating. According to the World Health Organization, the results already obtained can only be improved and limit the spread of RTS-S in the future.
"This is the most advanced anti-malaria vaccine we have today - "said Dr Richard Mihigo, coordinator of the immunization and vaccine development program of the WHO, to the AFP before the Kenyan launch - Children are the most vulnerable group to this serious disease that is malaria, so protecting children can have a great impact in the prevention of malaria".
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