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Kenya becomes third country in Africa to launch malaria vaccine

malaria prone region of Ndhiwa
The ministry is set to launch the vaccine at malaria prone region of Ndhiwa, Homa Bay County. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Ministry of Health (MoH) will today launch the malaria vaccine targeting children, becoming the third country after Ghana and Malawi to include it into its routine immunisation programme.

The ministry is set to launch the vaccine at malaria prone region of Ndhiwa, Homa Bay County.

The malaria vaccine, known as RTS,S or Mosquirix, will be given to children at six months, seven months, nine months and 24 months of age in targeted regions.

“Overall, the disease (malaria) is one of the top ten causes of illness and death in the country and a leading killer of children under the age of five. New interventions are needed to complement those currently in use to further drive down the disease burden in the country,” said MoH in a statement.

The rollout of the vaccine follows over 30 years of research involving health agencies around the world and three clinical trials and in Kenya, by the Kenya Medical Research Institute, and six other countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

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The malaria vaccine programme aims to reach about 360,000 children per year across the three countries.

Plans to roll-out the vaccine locally were first communicated in 2017 when Kenya was given the green-light by the World Health Organisation to establish structures to help it administer the drug.

Official data list malaria as the second biggest cause of illness in Kenya after diseases of the respiratory system. Deaths from malaria rose 9.7 per cent to 17,553 in 2017 with pregnant women and children below the age of five the most affected.

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