malaria vaccine Steve Ringman/ZumaPress

Het einde van malaria?

WASHINGTON, DC – Voor degenen die aan de frontlinie staan van de strijd tegen malaria is het nieuws over de ontwikkeling van een vaccin tegen de parasiet een opwindende gebeurtenis. In 2013 was de ziekte verantwoordelijk voor 584.000 doden, waarvan bijna 90% in het ten zuiden van de Sahara gelegen deel van Afrika; zo'n 78% van de slachtoffers bestaat uit kinderen van nog geen vijf jaar oud. In de 97 landen waarin malaria endemisch is, vernietigt de ziekte de economische productiviteit van degenen die zich dat het minst kunnen veroorloven: arme mensen met beperkte toegang tot behandeling en zorg.

In juli heeft het European Medicines Agency van de Europese Unie het gebruik toegestaan van RTS,S – een vaccin dat ook bekend staat onder zijn handelsnaam Mosquirix – bij kinderen van zes weken tot zeventien maanden oud. De mondiale gezondheidszorggemeenschap heeft het belang van een vaccin voor het terugdringen van de ziekte reeds lang onderkend, en de Wereldgezondheidsorganisatie zal naar verwachting in november een verklaring doen uitgaan over het gebruik van Mosquirix in landen waar malaria endemisch is, zo'n dertig jaar nadat onderzoekers van farmacieconcern GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) aan het vaccin zijn gaan werken.

De goedkeuring is een belangrijke stap in de goede richting als het gaat om de preventie en beheersing van malaria. Het is ook een getuigenis van de permanente kracht van sociale filantropie, partnerschappen en internationale samenwerkingen. Maar veel vragen over de toepassing van het vaccin – en de integratie ervan in de gezondheidszorgsystemen van een paar van 's werelds armste landen – blijven vooralsnog onbeantwoord.

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