Malaria: Niger authorizes a vaccine for young children

Niger “gave the green light” to administer Britain’s malaria vaccine to children under five to fight the disease which in 2021 killed more than 4,000 people.

“The government of Niger has given the green light for the use of the malaria vaccine, the RTS,S/AS01 vaccine, in children aged zero to five years” who pay a heavy price every year for this disease, told AFP Illiassou Maïnassarathe Nigerian Minister of Health.

“In the coming months, this vaccine will reach Niger and arrangements are already being made”, assured the minister. A press release from Council of Ministers confirmed this announcement, indicating that the Niger was a part of “countries eligible by the World Health Organization (WHO)”.

On October 9, 2021, the WHO had recommended the massive deployment in children of “RTS,S”a vaccine from British pharmaceutical giant GSK, the only one that has so far shown efficacy in significantly reducing cases, including the most serious of malaria.

Since 2019, the Ghanale Kenya and the Malawi started introducing the vaccine in some areas. More than one million children have received this vaccine in these countries, showing a reduction “substantially serious cases”, according to the WHO. In Niger, “permission to bring in” this vaccine is already granted to partners including the WHO or Unicef, according to Minister Maïnassara.

Le “RTS,S” acts against the parasite “plasmodium falciparum”transmitted by mosquitoesthe deadliest globally and most prevalent in Africa.

A very old disease, reported since antiquity, malaria is manifested by feverfrom headache and muscle aches then by cycles of chills, fever and sweat. If not treated in time, it can be fatal.

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About 90% of malaria cases worldwide are recorded in Africa, where 260,000 children die each year. Last year in Niger, 4,170 people died of malaria, and more than 4 million cases were reported.

According to Dr Djermakoye Hadiza Jackoucoordinator of the National Malaria Control Program in Niger (PNLP), the vaccine is “an opportunity to be able to reduce mortality-morbidity” in children 0 to 5 years old “which represent more than 50% of cases” et “nearly 60% of deaths”.

According to her, a combination of the vaccine with other means of prevention, in particular mosquito nets impregnated with insecticides, will make it possible to bring down “of at least 75% the cases of malaria” in children.

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