Despite Nigeria having the greatest burden of malaria in Africa and indeed the world, Malawi on Tuesday became the first of three African countries to launch of the world’s first malaria vaccine in a landmark pilot programme. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), some 360,000 children a year in three African countries will receive the world’s first malaria vaccine as part of a large-scale pilot project.
Malawi has started vaccinating children under two years of age and Kenya and Ghana will begin using the vaccine in the coming weeks, with health ministries in these countries deciding where it will be used, the WHO said.
“The malaria vaccine has the potential to save tens of thousands of children’s lives.”
Malaria is a parasitic disease transmitted through the bite of female Anopheles mosquitoes. It is both preventable and treatable, yet an estimated 435,000 people die of it each year.
In Nigeria, it is estimated that Nigeria loses N132 billion yearly and records estimated 100 million cases with over 300,000 deaths yearly to malaria and its complications.
Why was Nigeria not chosen?
The WHO explained: “Following a request by WHO for expressions of interest, the pilot countries were selected from among ten African countries. Key criteria for selection included well-functioning malaria and immunization programmes, and areas with moderate to high malaria transmission.”
As part of efforts to drive a reduction of malaria in Nigeria, in order to achieve the WHO’s 2030 elimination target, Evans Therapeutic Limited, on Tuesday, organised a community sensitization and awareness programme in line with the 2019 theme, where some residents of Isolo Local Government were tested and treated for malaria.
the Marketing Manager, Evans Therapeutics Limited, Sesan Adebayo, said it was necessary to sensitise the community on the burden of malaria and create awareness on the economic impact as well as the disease prevention and drug use.
He said Nigeria is still struggling with malaria elimination because of people’s attitude towards the disease and the low level of knowledge towards drug use, noting that anti-malaria drug is been abused in the country.“One of the things we have identified is that malaria is highly over diagnosed in Nigeria and many time, people use anti malaria when they don’t have the sickness. This is an environment where people have easy access to drugs; anybody can go to drugstore to purchase anti malaria drugs.
“To conquer malaria, anti malaria was made an over-the-counter drug, the only drug you can buy with out prescription and people have abused that privilege.