KISUMU, Kenya, Feb 3 – The control and ultimate eradication of malaria in Africa will depend on an effective malaria vaccine, Assistant Minister for Public Health Dr James Gesami has announced.
He said on Monday that the malaria vaccine, which is now going into phase 3 trials, will contribute in reducing child deaths in the continent.
The Assistant Minister expressed that the new vaccine is expected to become commercially available in the next few years.
“I wish to point out that the world has been waiting for such a vaccine for a long time because we know the health impact, which vaccines have in the past had on major childhood illnesses,” he said.
Dr Gesami noted that the challenge the continent might face could be the cost of the vaccine, and appealed that they should be affordable, so that they are accessible to all children at risk of contracting malaria.
Speaking in Kisumu during a general meeting for Malaria Clinical Trials Alliance that brought ten African countries together, Dr Gesami called for a concerted effort to control malaria in the continent.
He said Kenya’s national malaria strategy had identified four key interventions to assist in the prevention of malaria.
“We have put in place vector control using insecticide treated nets, ensuring access to prompt affordable and effective treatment, providing malaria prevention and treatment to pregnant women and improving malaria epidemics preparedness and response,” said Dr Gesami.
He said the Kenyan government had commissioned many public health interventions geared towards significantly reducing the incidence of malaria and resultant deaths.
He also announced that his ministry would soon adopt the call for universal coverage for all those at risk, with recommended interventions put up by the government.
The Assistant Minister further noted that many other countries in the Sub-Saharan Africa are also recording similar successes after scaling up the use of the current effective interventions.
“It now seems that we can control malaria on this continent, but we should aim at its elimination and therefore we need new tools for this phase of the war against the disease.”
Dr Gesami also announced that in November this year Kenya will be hosting the 5th Pan-African Conference on malaria, in which African scientists and their partners will be reviewing progress in the war against malaria.