“This is a historic moment. The long-awaited malaria vaccine for children represents a breakthrough for science, children’s health and the fight against malaria, ”said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), on October 6, 2021. “Using this vaccine alongside existing tools to prevent malaria could save tens of thousands of young lives every year,” he added. WHO now recommends the widespread use of the malaria vaccine RTS, S / AS01 (RTS, S) in children in sub-Saharan Africa and other areas where transmission of plasmodium falciparum malaria is moderate or severe. This recommendation is based on the results of an ongoing pilot program in Ghana, Kenya and Malawi that has reached over 800,000 children since 2019.
Based on advice from two global advisory bodies, one on immunization and the other on malaria, WHO recommends that, as part of comprehensive malaria control, the RTS, S / AS01 malaria vaccine be used for the prevention of plasmodium falciparum malaria in children living in areas with moderate to heavy transmission. RTS, S / AS01 malaria vaccine should be given in 4 doses to children from 5 months of age to reduce the burden of disease.
The antimalarial drug recommended by the WHO improves health and saves lives. This situation has been observed including in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. The RTS, S vaccine increases equity in access to malaria prevention. We also note a high impact in real contexts of vaccination in children: significant reduction (30%) of severe and fatal cases of malaria, even when the vaccine is introduced in areas where mosquito nets impregnated with insecticide are widely used and where access to diagnostic and treatment services is adequate. Funding for the pilot program was secured through an unprecedented collaboration between three major global health financing organizations: the Gavi Alliance; the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria; and Unitaid.