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Cameroon Takes Step Against Malaria, Launches Mass Vaccination Campaign for Children

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Cameroon is set to become the first country in Africa to administer a new malaria vaccine to children on a routine basis, marking a significant milestone in the global battle against the mosquito-borne disease.

The campaign, which is scheduled to commence today, aims to vaccinate approximately 250,000 children in Cameroon between 2024 and 2025.
Officials are hailing this initiative as a crucial step in the decades-long effort to combat malaria in Africa, which is responsible for a staggering 95% of all malaria-related deaths worldwide.

Aurelia Nguyen, Chief Program Officer at the Gavi vaccines alliance, expressed optimism about the impact of the vaccination, stating,

“The vaccination will save lives. It will provide major relief to families and the country’s health system.”

Cameroon will be utilizing the Mosquirix vaccine, the first of two recently approved malaria vaccines. Although the World Health Organization endorsed Mosquirix two years ago, it acknowledged that the vaccine’s efficacy stands at only around 30%. Regardless, experts anticipate a substantial reduction in severe infections and hospitalizations with the widespread deployment of Mosquirix.

The vaccination effort comes as part of a broader collaboration between Gavi and 20 African nations, aiming to secure and distribute the vaccine to immunize more than 6 million children across the continent by 2025.

Despite Mosquirix’s limitations, including its requirement for four doses and a gradual decrease in protection over months, its deployment is seen as a crucial step in the fight against malaria.

There is also an ongoing discussion about the practicality of a second malaria vaccine developed by Oxford University and approved by WHO in October, which is cheaper, requires three doses, and has the potential for larger-scale production.

GSK, the producer of Mosquirix, has cited production limitations, manufacturing only about 15 million doses annually. Meanwhile, the Oxford vaccine, with the backing of India’s Serum Institute, could potentially produce up to 200 million doses per year.

Aurelia Nguyen from Gavi expressed hope that the Oxford vaccine might soon be available, supplementing the efforts to combat malaria later this year.

It’s crucial to note that while the vaccines provide a significant layer of protection, they do not stop transmission entirely.

Therefore, existing tools such as bed nets and insecticidal spraying will continue to be vital in the comprehensive strategy to control and eventually eradicate malaria.

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