The world’s first routine roll out of the malaria vaccine has kicked off in Cameroon. The vaccine rollout commenced on Monday, featuring Daniella as the first recipient of the RTS,S malaria vaccine near Yaoundé.
Endorsed by the World Health Organisation in October 2021 after a two-year program involving over 800,000 children in Ghana, Kenya, and Malawi, the RTS,S vaccine is recommended for children aged five months to approximately 18 months, boasting a 39 percent efficacy.
Cameroon is providing the vaccine free of charge, administering it in four doses to all infants up to six months old. In a social media post on Monday, the WHO described the vaccine drive as a “historic step” towards wider vaccination against one of the deadliest diseases for African children.
“For this initial malaria vaccination drive targeting 42 districts, Cameroon received 330,000 doses of the RTS,S vaccine last November,” the post reads.
Shalom Ndoula, a Cameroonian doctor who helped to lead the rollout in his country, said although the vaccine has a relatively low efficacy, it is an important “additional tool” in the fight against malaria.
“We have a capacity to considerably reduce the number of cases and deaths from malaria and accelerate the elimination of the disease,” he said.
Meanwhile, 20 other countries aim to roll out the programme this year including Burkina Faso, Liberia, Niger and Sierra Leone.