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Anti-malaria vaccine a reality now

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on January 15, 2018

WHO-developed vaccine to start pilot in Africa in 2018

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has developed a new anti-malaria vaccine which could potentially help countries such as India and those in Sub-Saharan Africa reduce deaths from the vector-borne disease.

The vaccine is going to be piloted in three African countries starting 2018-Ghana, Kenya, and Malawi-WHO announced in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo on Monday, a day ahead of the World Malaria Day on Tuesday.

“The injectable vaccine, RTS,S, was developed to protect young children from the most deadly form of malaria caused by Plasmodium falciparum. RTS,S will be assessed in the pilot programme as a complementary malaria control tool that could potentially be added to the core package of WHO-recommended measures for malaria prevention,” WHO said in a statement.

The WHO’s decision to pilot the programme in Africa stems from the fact that the continent has the highest burden of the disease. However, a successful vaccine would have significant benefits for India as well, which is estimated to be burdened with 75 per cent of all malaria cases in South-East Asia.

According to the National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme, in 2014 more than 11 lakh cases of malaria were reported in the country, out of which over 7.2 lakh were caused by the Plasmodium falciparum parasite, against which the WHO has developed the vaccine.

According to Jagdish Prasad, Director General of Health Services, out of the 674 districts in India, which fall in the malaria endemic areas, 75 have not shown significant incidents. In 400 districts, less than one malaria case has been reported.

“However, some States such as Meghalaya, Mizoram, Assam, Orissa, Jharkhand and Chattisgarh continue to be a cause for concern as just these states account for over 60 per cent of all the malaria cases in India,” Prasad said, after conducting a pan-India survey last week.

He said that efforts would be intensified in these States by increasing access to insecticide treated nets, insecticides, and preventive medicines and others. The government has recently announced a target to eliminate malaria by 2030.

Published on April 24, 2017

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