What you need to know:
- Malaria is still the second biggest cause of reported deaths after respiratory infections, with nearly 70 per cent of the country’s 46 million people at grave risk.
- The malaria vaccine — the product of 30 years of development — was piloted in Kenya, Ghana and Malawi.
The development of a malaria vaccine is one of the biggest breakthroughs against a disease that has for years been one of the major health challenges. The Covid-19 pandemic may have stolen the limelight from this equally fatal disease but malaria remains a big burden for, especially for the public health sector. Every year, the country reports nearly 3.5 million new clinical cases and 10,700 deaths.
It is particularly grave in western Kenya, where there is an especially high risk. There has been a sustained campaign against malaria and the country seemed to be on track to win the war, but the threat persists.
The health authorities have led an awareness campaign to get the people to clear bushes and drain stagnant pools of water to deny mosquitoes breeding ground and cut the transmission of disease. Millions of insecticide-treated bed nets have been distributed and homes fumigated. Drugs and cheap testing have been made available. However, last year, there were 10.7 million malaria cases, up from 7.9 million in 2017.
According to official statistics, malaria is still the second biggest cause of reported deaths after respiratory infections, with nearly 70 per cent of the country’s 46 million people at grave risk.
The malaria vaccine — the product of 30 years of development — was piloted in Kenya, Ghana and Malawi. On October 6, the WHO recommended widespread use of the RTS,S vaccine in sub-Saharan Africa and other regions. Kenyan experts are proud to have contributed to this historic achievement. To date, more than 200, 000 children have been vaccinated. It is safe, effective, and substantially reduces severe malaria.
Several challenges, including Covid-19, have severely shaken health system. The country must ensure that all the people, especially children, have access to the malaria vaccine besides other interventions, including insecticide-treated bed nets. This is the way to a healthier and more productive nation.