Kenya, Ghana and Malawi receive Sh19b malaria grant
Kenya is among three African countries set to benefit from the Sh19 billion international funding to roll out malaria vaccines in the period 2022-25.
The funding launched by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance will facilitate increased malaria immunisation access for children in high-risk areas in the selected African nations, which include Ghana and Malawi.
Kenya, Malawi and Ghana began pilot introduction of the vaccine in 2019. Currently, about 1.3 million children have benefitted from the vaccine in the pilot countries. Other countries in malaria prone areas in the continent are also expected to start vaccinations using the funding, which is also supported by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Malaria remains a primary cause of child illness and death in Sub-Saharan Africa. In 2020, nearly half a million children died of the disease meaning, one child died from malaria in every minute. Since the world’s first malaria vaccine was introduced in 2019, it has been well accepted in African communities after a relatively short period of time.
Demand for the vaccines has been high with vaccination performance for the first dose reaching between 73 percent to over 90 percent coverage, depending on the country, with no major disruptions during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“This new funding opportunity brings us one step closer to reaching millions more children across Africa with the malaria vaccine,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for AfricaFollowing WHO’s recommendation in October 2021 for widespread use of the malaria vaccine among children in regions with moderate to high Plasmodium falciparum malaria transmission, a number of malaria-endemic countries have expressed interest in adopting the vaccine and are expected to apply for Gavi support to introduce the vaccine.
The vaccine works specifically against Plasmodium falciparum, which is the deadliest malaria parasite and the most prevalent on the African continent.
According to WHO, in areas where the vaccine has been introduced, there has been a substantial drop in children being hospitalized with severe malaria and a drop-in child deaths in the age group that is eligible for the vaccine.
According to Gavi, the three nations that had piloted the vaccine can apply for the funding by September.