Minister of Health Khumbize Kandodo Chiponda has said Malawi will by the end of this year roll out the malaria vaccine which targets children aged between five and 22 months.
The vaccine known as RTS,S/AS01 (RTS,S,) which is administered in four doses, acts against Plasmodium Falciparum, the deadliest malaria parasite globally and the most prevalent in Africa.
Chiponda said this yesterday in Lilongwe during the official commemoration of the 2022 World Malaria Day which was celebrated under the theme ‘Advance Equity, Build Resilience, End Malaria.’
The minister said due to low production, the vaccine will this year only target children from Chikwawa, Nsanje, Lilongwe, Karonga, Nkhata Bay, Ntchisi, Phalombe, Mchinji, Mangochi, Machinga and Balaka districts.
She said: “Since this is a new vaccine, production is currently low. We are hopeful that by the year 2024, we should be able to have the vaccination rolled out in the whole country.
“Let me say that this vaccine has a lot of benefits and one of them includes reducing the number of outpatients suffering from malaria by 40 percent and that prevalence of severe malaria can be reduced by 31.5 percent.”
Chiponda said the vaccine is just another preventative measure.
In her remarks, World Health Organisation (WHO) country representative Janet Kayita said the day gives countries an opportunity to renew their political commitments and encourage continued investment in malaria prevention and control.
She said: “I call on countries and communities affected by malaria to work closely with development partners to advance our countries along the road to elimination while contributing to the achievement of other Sustainable Development Goals [SDGs].”
Two years ago, Malawi became the first country in the world to introduce the malaria vaccine into its childhood immunisation programme, followed by Ghana and Kenya.
The vaccine was introduced in a phased approach that targeted 11 districts in Malawi.