WHO recommends first anti-malarial vaccine

  • IASbaba
  • October 7, 2021
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WHO recommends first anti-malarial vaccine

Part of: Prelims and GS II – Health 

Context The World Health Organization (WHO) has recommended the widespread rollout of the first malaria vaccine.

  • This could save tens of thousands of children’s lives each year across Africa.

Key takeaways 

  • After a successful pilot programme in three African countries the RTS,S vaccine will be made available more widely.
    • The RTS,S vaccine, also known as Mosquirix, was developed by the British pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), and has been administered to more than 800,000 children in Ghana, Kenya and Malawi since the pilot programme began in 2019.
  • A study has also found that when young children were given both the RTS,S and antimalarial drugs there was a 70% reduction in hospitalisation or death.

About Malaria 

  • Malaria is a life threatening mosquito borne blood disease caused by plasmodium parasites. 
  • It is predominantly found in the tropical and subtropical areas of Africa, South America as well as Asia.
  • The parasites spread through the bites of infected female Anopheles mosquitoes.
  • There are 5 parasite species that cause malaria in humans. 2 of these species – Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax – pose the greatest threat.
  • Symptoms: Fever and flu-like illness, including shaking chills, headache, muscle aches, and tiredness.
  • It is preventable as well as curable.
  • This disease causes hundreds of millions of infections each year, risking lives and livelihoods, trapping people in poverty.

Status of India

  • India is the only high endemic country which has reported a decline of 17.6% in 2019 as compared to 2018.
  • India’s National Strategic Plan for Malaria Elimination shifted focus from Malaria control to elimination and provided a roadmap to end malaria in 571 districts out of India’s 678 districts by 2022.
  • Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has recently established ‘Malaria Elimination Research Alliance-India (MERA-India) which is a conglomeration of partners working on malaria control.

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