Since the start of the malaria vaccine in Africa in September 2019, Kenya has managed to give 4,017 children the full four doses, according to the Ministry of Health.
The data are not publicly available, but will be included The East African ahead of World Malaria Day reveals that Kenya has administered more than 450,000 doses of the RTS-S malaria vaccine.
Dr. George Githuka, Head of the National Malaria Department in Kenya told The EastAfrican that Covid-19 had impacted movement in facilities for mothers and their children.
Dr. Githuka said RTS, S, known by the brand name Mosquirix, was only in eight counties with the use of highest levels of malaria in western and southern Kenya: Bungoma, Busia, Homa Bay, Kakamega, Kisumu, Migori, Vihiga and Siaya.
“The fewer people go to hospital because of Covid-19 and the little ones the region where the vaccine was used could explain the low numbers,” he said.
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Kenya, along with Ghana and Ma lawi, were the only countries in the world selected by the World Health Organization (WHO) to participate in the RTS, S malaria vaccine pilot project. The pilot was not a clinical trial but a vaccination program that was closely monitored to collect more data to make sure it was safe and effective before it was made available to the wider population.
According to WHO predicts that more than 190,000 children in Kenya have received the first dose given to the children after six months. The other doses are given to the children after seven, nine and 24 months. After a full dose, the vaccine offers 30 percent protection.
The WHO models also show that Kenya will have administered more than 450,000 doses by the end of this month. This is the lowest of the three countries: Ghana will have given more than 680,000 doses, with nearly 240,000 children receiving the first dose; Malawi will have received the first dose to more than 620,000 and almost 230,000 children.
Kenya expects WHO to announce by the end of this year whether and how the Ministry of Health will vaccinate the larger population.
Although fewer than targeted, experts in this area praised the number of participants. They also encouraged the government not to lose sight of other efforts to eradicate malaria, a disease that kills two people every minute around the world.
In Kenya, malaria is the second leading cause of the disease Visit And Spend Time In The Hospital And Sometimes You Die: There were 4.7 million confirmed cases in 2019, an 18 percent increase from 2018. Seven out of ten of those cases (74.4 percent) are from the eight counties above, where the vaccine will be used in Kenya.
Path, an international health innovation organization working with UK pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline to manufacture the vaccine, said the results in Kenya were “very encouraging”.
In a statement, Path sent to The EastAfrican from its Kenya office, said Kenya started the exercise almost five months after Ghana and Malawi.
Dr. Dickson Mwakangalu, a public health specialist and malaria expert at the international health organization Jhpiego, said the vaccine is “one of the great arsenals” against malaria.
Dr. Mwakangalu, who also leads the US-funded Impact Malaria Project in Kenya, said Kenya must continue to control the Anopheles mosquito, which carries the malaria parasite.
“We need to keep spraying houses, advising and helping communities assist in removing compounds and draining water where the mosquito is breeding, sleeping under treated nets, and ensuring that pregnant mothers receive the prophylactic fansidar to prevent them from getting malaria, “said Dr. Mwakangalu.
Thirty-three years of research and $ 700 million invested in the development of the vaccine, but the malaria parasite’s cunning and mobility make it difficult to target with the vaccine alone.
The parasite’s life cycle begins when an infected female mosquito bites a person and then spits Plasmodium cells into the bloodstream. The cells then multiply in the liver and come out as a different type of cell (merozoite) that attacks the red blood cells. Their large numbers cause the blood cells to burst, causing a fever, headache, chills, muscle pain and often anemia.
During this entire process, the parasite changes the proteins on its surface, what it does for blood cells Difficulty making the body’s immune system and the vaccine to fight it.
Because of this, health ministries in East Africa must ensure that local and national health systems can identify and treat people in a timely manner if they develop malaria.