The GAVI global vaccine alliance said Wednesday that 12 countries in Africa would receive 18 million doses of malaria vaccine over the next two years, expanding access to the injections to nine new countries in the region.
Malaria remains one of the deadliest diseases on the continent, killing nearly half a million children under five each year. In 2021, Africa accounted for around 95% of global malaria cases and 96% of deaths, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
“At least 28 African countries have expressed interest in receiving the RTS,S (malaria) vaccine,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a news conference, adding that a second malaria vaccine was under review. for pre-qualification and, if successful, could provide additional supply in the near term.
Ghana, Kenya and Malawi have been receiving the RTS,S vaccine since 2019 as part of a GAVI-funded pilot program and more than 1.7 million children in the countries have received the dose, GAVI, UNICEF and WHO said in a joint statement. .
The nine new countries that will receive the vaccine, developed by the British pharmaceutical company GSK, are Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Liberia, Niger, Sierra Leone and Uganda.
The first doses of the RTS,S vaccine are expected to reach all 12 African countries during the last quarter of 2023, allowing them to start rolling out early next year.
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