Former President John Dramani Mahama has commended research institutions in Ghana following the approval of malaria vaccines by the World Health Organization (WHO).
He mentioned the Kintampo Health Research Centre, Agogo Presbyterian Hospital, Navrongo Health Research Centre, School of Public Health, University of Ghana, University of Health and Allied Sciences, the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research and Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, as some of the institutions that played key roles for this feat.
In a Facebook post, the 2020 Presidential Candidate of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) said “Still on the WHO approved malaria vaccine, the scientific and Public Health breakthrough reminds me of the tireless efforts of our researchers and institutions in Ghana that made this achievement possible.
“The Kintampo Health Research Centre, Agogo Presbyterian Hospital, Navrongo Health Research Centre, School of Public Health, University of Ghana, University of Health and Allied Sciences, the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research and Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology led various clinical trials of the Malaria Vaccine in Ghana.
“This feat is one more reason why we must invest and significantly in cutting edge science, research and development in Ghana. And let me add, the researchers and members of the Technical Working Group deserve National Awards.”
He further indicated that the approval of the vaccines is heartwarming news.
“It is heartwarming to learn of the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) approval of a malaria vaccine after years of trial.
“It is refreshing and promising to learn that our expression of interest in 2016 to the WHO and active participation in the Malaria vaccine pilot programme has led to the approval of the vaccine to be deployed in Sub-Saharan Africa and other malaria endemic regions.
“I am elated at the prospect of vaccinating millions of African children who will be saved from avoidable deaths as a result of this scientific and Public Health breakthrough.
“Thanks to Dr. Vasee Moorthy and his team at the World Health Organisation who responded favourably to Ghana’s expression of interest in the malaria vaccine programme in 2016.
“Congratulations to the WHO, Ghana’s Technical Working Group and the governments and people of Malawi and Kenya who joined us in the successful pilot immunisation programme.
“As Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the Director-General of the WHO, said, this is, ‘a historic moment,.”
WHO is recommending widespread use of the RTS,S/AS01 (RTS,S) malaria vaccine among children in sub-Saharan Africa and in other regions with moderate to high P. falciparum malaria transmission. The recommendation is based on results from an ongoing pilot programme in Ghana, Kenya and Malawi that has reached more than 800 000 children since 2019.
“This is a historic moment. The long-awaited malaria vaccine for children is a breakthrough for science, child health and malaria control,” said WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “Using this vaccine on top of existing tools to prevent malaria could save tens of thousands of young lives each year.”
Malaria remains a primary cause of childhood illness and death in sub-Saharan Africa. More than 260 000 African children under the age of five die from malaria annually.
In recent years, WHO and its partners have been reporting a stagnation in progress against the deadly disease.
“For centuries, malaria has stalked sub-Saharan Africa, causing immense personal suffering,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa. “We have long hoped for an effective malaria vaccine and now for the first time ever, we have such a vaccine recommended for widespread use. Today’s recommendation offers a glimmer of hope for the continent which shoulders the heaviest burden of the disease and we expect many more African children to be protected from malaria and grow into healthy adults.”
WHO recommendation for the RTS,S malaria vaccine
Based on the advice of two WHO global advisory bodies, one for immunization and the other for malaria, the Organization recommends that:
WHO recommends that in the context of comprehensive malaria control the RTS,S/AS01 malaria vaccine be used for the prevention of P. falciparum malaria in children living in regions with moderate to high transmission as defined by WHO. RTS,S/AS01 malaria vaccine should be provided in a schedule of 4 doses in children from 5 months of age for the reduction of malaria disease and burden.