Kenya contemplates expanded use of recently approved Malaria vaccine

KENYA – The Ministry of Health in Kenya has announced plans to roll out the first ever approved vaccine against malaria to various parts of the Country.

The government has said consultations are ongoing with experts and advisory bodies to make considerations on the expanded use of the Malaria vaccine known as RTS,S based on in-country morbidity data and regulatory provisions.

WHO recommended wider use of the vaccine across sub Saharan Africa and other regions earlier this week, following a review of malaria vaccine data generated from the pilot and other RTS,S evidence.

Health CS Mutahi Kagwe in a speech read on his behalf by acting Director General for Health in the Ministry of Health Dr. Patrick Amoth said Kenya was keen to see greater use of this first and only malaria vaccine in routine use.

“I hope this important milestone will encourage support for continuing and expanding the use of the malaria vaccine in Kenya, and beyond, to ensure it benefits our vulnerable children for generations to come” said the health CS.

Currently the vaccine is being rolled out in eight endemic counties of Busia, Bungoma, Homabay, Kakamega, Kisumu, Migori, Siaya and Vihiga.

Through the pilots, we have confirmed that the vaccine is safe, significantly reduces severe, life-threatening malaria and can be delivered successfully in real-life childhood vaccination settings,” the minister remarked.

Although the burden of malaria remains high in some parts of Kenya, the Ministry of Health has made significant progress in the fight against the disease with cases in Kenya reducing by 74pc, and deaths by 46pc since 2000.

In 2020, out of 10.7 million Kenyans tested, 4.1 million had malaria but the country aims to reduce malaria incidents and deaths by 73 percent by 2023.

Malaria is one of the top 10 causes of illness and death in the country and a leading killer of children under five years.

In 2016, malaria caused about 3.5 million infections and over 10,000 deaths in Kenya, overwhelming the health facility capacity in the Lake Endemic Region.

At the moment, 70 percent of the population are at a risk of contracting the disease in endemic regions of Western and Coast.

The ministry with the support of global partners says it has made significant progress in the fight against malaria and will ensure people living in malaria risk areas have access to appropriate malaria preventive interventions.

Ndhiwa sub-county of Homabay County was the first to administer the vaccine as a routine childhood immunization.

The vaccine will be given free of charge to children at 6 months, 7 months, 9 months and 24 months alongside other interventions. So far over 200,000 children have received at least one dose.

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