What you need to know:
- Over one million doses of the RTS, S vaccine provided in four doses have already been administered to 400,000 children in Homa Bay, Kakamega, Bungoma, Vihiga, Busia, Kisumu, Siaya and Migori counties.
- Overall, more than 1.2 million children in Kenya, Malawi and Ghana have been immunised.
Cases of children hospitalisation and deaths due to malaria have reduced significantly over the past three years in Kenya, thanks to the rollout of the world’s first malaria RTS,S vaccine, the World Health Organization (WHO) has announced.
Kenya is among three countries, including Ghana and Malawi, where WHO launched pilot phases of the Malaria Vaccine Implementation Programme in 2019.
The trial projects set to be finalised by the year-end, were first launched in 26 sub-counties with high prevalence across eight counties in Western Kenya.
Over one million doses of the RTS, S vaccine provided in four doses have already been administered to 400,000 children in Homa Bay, Kakamega, Bungoma, Vihiga, Busia, Kisumu, Siaya and Migori counties.
Overall, more than 1.2 million children in Kenya, Malawi and Ghana have been immunised.
A report released by the WHO last week illustrates that severe malaria infection and mortality among children have plummeted in the eight lake-endemic malaria regions.
“There was substantial reduction in deadly severe malaria and a decline in all-cause mortality among children in areas receiving the vaccine,” stated the WHO Representative to Kenya, Dr Abdourahmane Diallo.
“Modelling estimates one life saved for every 200 children vaccinated.”
In Homa Bay, for instance, prevalence has significantly decreased to 19 per cent from 27 per cent as a result of the vaccine, according to Kenya Malaria Indicator Survey.
By the end of last year, 1,052,826 doses had been administered in Kenya, with 367,360 children having received the first dose through the Ministry of Health routine immunisation programme.
Over 800,000 children had been vaccinated in the three African countries as of October 2021. Following these impressive results, WHO in October 2021 recommended wider use of RTS,S in Kenya, Malawi and Ghana.
The move is aimed at reinforcing prevention measures against P.falciparum malaria in children living in regions with moderate to high transmission.
“Following the recommendation, Kenya is expanding the use of the vaccine in 25 additional sub-counties in the eight counties. The expansion is meant to provide access to this additional malaria tool to more children at risk of malaria illness and death.
“Expansion of malaria vaccination in Kenya follows similar expansions in Malawi in November 2022 and in Ghana in February 2023,” stated WHO.
During the launch of the extended rollout in Vihiga County last week, Health Cabinet Secretary Susan Nakhumincha announced the move to extend RTS,S vaccination to 25 additional sub-counties in Western Kenya to cover 51 sub-counties.
Dr Nakhumicha referred to the already positive results recorded, assuring of the vaccine’s safety, while urging parents to allow their children to be immunised.
“The vaccine is safe and significantly reduces severe, life-threatening malaria. We are urging all our caregivers in the lake-endemic regions to bring their children to receive this malaria vaccine where it is available and make sure they complete the required four doses to get the best protection from the vaccine,” said the CS in a presser read by the acting Health Director General, Dr Patrick Amoth.
“We are thrilled to announce today that more children in Kenya will be able to benefit from the life-saving protection offered by the world’s first malaria vaccine.
“Over the past three years we’ve seen a dramatic reduction in the number of malaria cases and hospitalisations from malaria in areas where the vaccine has been administered. We are excited to now be able to offer this additional malaria tool to more of our children,” she said.