malaria vaccine Steve Ringman/ZumaPress

The End of Malaria?

In July, the EU approved RTS, S – a malaria vaccine also known by its trade name, Mosquirix – for use in children from six to 17 months old. While this is exciting news for everyone on the front line of the fight against the disease, many questions about the vaccine's deployment remain to be answered.

WASHINGTON, DC – For those on the frontline of the battle against malaria, news of the development of a vaccine against the parasite is an exciting development. In 2013, the disease was responsible for 584,000 deaths, nearly 90% of them in Sub-Saharan Africa; some 78% of its victims are children under the age of five. In the 97 countries in which malaria is endemic, it ravages the economic productivity of those who can least afford it: poor people with limited access to treatment and care.

In July, the European Medicines Agency approved RTS,S – a vaccine also known by its trade name, Mosquirix – for use in children from six weeks to 17 months old. The global health community has long appreciated the importance of a vaccine in reducing the disease’s burden, and the World Health Organization is expected to make an announcement in November about the use of Mosquirix in countries where malaria is endemic, some 30 excruciating years after researchers at the pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) began working on the vaccine.

The approval is a significant step in the right direction for the prevention and control of malaria. It is also a testament to the enduring power of social philanthropy, partnerships, and international collaborations. However, many questions about the vaccine’s deployment – and its integration into the health systems of some of the world’s poorest countries – remain to be answered.

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