New Malaria Vaccine to Benefit Hundreds of Thousands of African Children

The World Health Organization's endorsement of the world’s first malaria vaccine marks a major advance against the mosquito-borne illness, which kills some 265,000 children in Africa annually.

Bitrus Yusuf pours syrup into a measuring cup to give to his three-year-old daughter and grandson who are sick with malaria.

He said the mosquito-borne parasite that causes the illness is all too common at this Abuja camp for internally displaced people where they live.

"We went to bed, all was well, everybody was well," Yusuf said. "But toward midnight I heard him shivering. As I touched his body (it was) very hot, so I woke him up."

The World Health Organization said some 94% of malaria cases and deaths worldwide occur in Africa, and that Nigeria accounts for a quarter of the fatalities. The U.N. agency said children under the age of five and pregnant women are the most affected.

Last week, the global health body announced its approval for the rollout of the world's first malaria vaccine, Mosquirix. The vaccine, made by the pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline, has been in development for more than three decades.

The WHO said Mosquirix could potentially change the course of public health history.

Walter Kazadi Mulombo is the WHO representative in Nigeria.

“You know before the vaccine could be introduced in the country, it has to be cleared by NAFDAC for the case of Nigeria and there are steps to be taken for the country to approve the vaccine so that introduction can start,” Mulombo said.

NAFDAC refers to the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control in Nigeria.

Source: Voice of America