Skip to main content

nsofor1_CRISTINAALDEHUELAAFPGettyImages_nursepreparingmalariavaccine Cristina Aldehuela/AFP/Getty Images

Making the Most of the Malaria Vaccine

The first vaccine shown to provide partial protection against malaria in young children is now being made available through routine immunization programs in parts of Sub-Saharan Africa. But those programs – and the health systems in which they operate – have serious weaknesses.

ABUJA – A new malaria vaccine now being piloted in Sub-Saharan Africa, where 90% of malaria cases occur, could be a game changer in global health. But, if the new vaccine is to fulfill its potential, health ministries will need to make some important changes.

Each year, malaria kills one million people worldwide, the majority of whom are children under five years of age. The economic costs of the disease in Africa – treatment expenses, absenteeism from work, foregone education, decreased productivity, and loss of investment and tourism – are estimated to reach $12 billion annually.

The new RTS,S/AS01 (RTS,S) vaccine, developed by GlaxoSmithKline over 32 years at a cost of more than $700 million, could go a long way toward changing that. In clinical trials among children aged 5-17 months who received four doses, the vaccine prevented approximately four in ten (39%) cases of malaria over four years of follow-up, and about three in ten (29%) cases of severe malaria, with significant reductions in hospital admissions. The need for blood transfusions in severe cases was cut by 29%.

We hope you're enjoying Project Syndicate.

To continue reading, subscribe now.


Get unlimited access to PS premium content, including in-depth commentaries, book reviews, exclusive interviews, On Point, the Big Picture, the PS Archive, and our annual year-ahead magazine.

Help make our reporting on global health and development issues stronger by answering a short survey.

Take Survey;
  1. GettyImages-1185850541 Scott Peterson/Getty Images

    Power to the People?

    Aryeh Neier

    From Beirut to Hong Kong to Santiago, governments are eager to bring an end to mass demonstrations. But, in the absence of greater institutional responsiveness to popular grievances and demands, people are unlikely to stay home.

  2. rogoff187_Matt Anderson Photography Getty Images_datanumberlines Matt Anderson Photography/Getty Images

    The High Stakes of the Coming Digital Currency War

    Kenneth Rogoff

    Just as technology has disrupted media, politics, and business, it is on the verge of disrupting America’s ability to leverage faith in its currency to pursue its broader national interests. The real challenge for the United States isn't Facebook's proposed Libra; it's government-backed digital currencies like the one planned by China.


Cookies and Privacy

We use cookies to improve your experience on our website. To find out more, read our updated Cookie policy, Privacy policy and Terms & Conditions