Malaria vaccine trials will start next year

The World Health Organization called today for accelerated scale-up of efforts to prevent malaria and save lives.

In sub-Saharan Africa, which shoulders 90% of the global malaria burden, more than 663 million cases have been averted since 2001. Insecticide-treated nets have had the greatest impact, accounting for an estimated 69% of cases prevented through control tools.

Together with diagnosis and treatment, WHO recommends a package of proven prevention approaches, including insecticide treated nets, spraying indoor walls with insecticides, and preventive medicines for the most vulnerable groups: pregnant women, under-fives and infants.

WHO report: “Malaria prevention works: Let’s close the gap”

WHO’s latest report spotlights critical gaps in prevention coverage, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. An estimated 43% of people at risk of malaria in the region were not protected by either a net or indoor insecticide spraying in 2015. Approximately 69% of pregnant women in 20 African countries did not have access to the recommended 3 or more doses of preventive treatment.

WHO’s global technical strategy for malaria, 2016-2030

In May 2015, the World Health Assembly approved WHO’s Global Technical Strategy for Malaria 2016–2030, a 15-year blueprint for all countries working to control and eliminate malaria. The strategy set ambitious targets for 2030, including reducing malaria case incidence and death rates by at least 90%, eliminating malaria in at least 35 countries, and preventing the reintroduction of malaria in all countries that are malaria free.

Interim 2020 targets call for 40% reductions in malaria case incidence and death rates and for the elimination of malaria in at least 10 countries. Less than half of the world’s 91 countries with malaria transmission are on track to achieve these interim targets for case incidence and mortality reductions.

Harnessing Innovation

Future progress in the fight to prevent malaria will likely be shaped by technological advances and innovations in new tools, including new vector control interventions, and possibly a vaccine.

The WHO African Region will announce today the three countries that will take part in a WHO-coordinated malaria vaccine pilot programme in selected areas, beginning in 2018. The injectable vaccine, known as “RTS,S,” was developed to protect young children in Africa. It will be assessed in the pilots as a complementary malaria control tool that could potentially be added to the core package of WHO-recommended measures for malaria prevention, diagnosis, and treatment.

World Malaria Day falls in World Immunization Week 24-30 April which celebrates the widespread use of vaccines that protect people against 26 diseases. Overall, vaccines prevent an estimated 2-3 million deaths each year.

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