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Benin, Liberia, And Sierra Leone Kickoff Malaria Vaccine Programmes

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Benin, Liberia, and Sierra Leone flagged off their malaria vaccination programmes on Thursday as part of a pro-African initiative aimed at saving thousands of children from the deadly grip of the disease.

The RTS,S vaccine in use, approved by the World Health Organisation, is intended to reinforce existing malaria preventive measures, including the use of mosquito-treated nets. The project is a step forward in winning the fight against malaria, a disease that kills about 500,000 children under the age of five every year in Africa.

Meanwhile, clinical trials for the RTS,S vaccine have been ongoing in Ghana, Kenya, and Malawi since 2019 under the Malaria Vaccine Pilot Programme (MVPP). Cameroon, however, made history in January when it officially rolled out the RTS,S vaccine into its vaccination programme and became the first-ever country to implement the vaccine. This feat means Benin, Liberia, and Sierra Leone have joined Cameroon in the ranks of African countries officially using the vaccine for malaria immunisation.

Commenting on this milestone, Aurelia Nguyen, GAVI’s Chief Programme Officer, stressed the importance of this project, saying, “The introduction will help save lives and offer relief to families, communities, and hard-pressed health systems.”

Benin received 215,900 doses of the vaccine, which will be made available to children from 5 years of age, according to the GAVI report. Sierra Leone and Liberia received 550,000 and 112,000 doses, respectively.

25 children were vaccinated against malaria to flag off the official launch in Benin, in the town of Allada, situated some 54 kilometres from Cotonou, the nation’s largest city. 

According to GAVI, eleven African countries account for approximately 70% of the global malaria burden.

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