The whole world is happy that a malaria vaccine has been formulated that will save millions of lives across the globe, especially in regions where the mosquito-borne parasitic disease is endemic. A pilot programme to test the efficacy of the vaccine had been carried out in three African countries, Ghana, Kenya, and Malawi from 2019. In these countries two million doses were administered and the results showed that the vaccine successfully prevented malaria. Those given the vaccine were closely monitored by local and foreign physicians and medicine specialists, including those from the WHO. The world health body has endorsed the vaccine and recommended its general use. Scientists and medical experts have hailed the vaccine as a significant breakthrough in the prevention of malaria, which kills more than 400,000 a year worldwide, mostly children in Africa. A child dies every two minutes in the world. In Africa, around two million people fall victim to malaria every year, and half a million die from the disease. Malaria mostly affects children and pregnant women.
Considering the difficult economic circumstances of a majority of people, caused by massive corruption and bad governance, in the Third World, the WHO and the health authorities in these countries are confronting the issue of funding for the vaccine on a large scale. Countries, with the cooperation of the WHO, will be trying to increase the outreach of the vaccine with the minimum of financial resources. This is also to be decided how many doses different age groups will need. Medical experts and the experience gained from the vaccination process in different climatic conditions will, for the most part, determine the number of doses and the time lag between the doses. An equitable distribution of the malaria vaccine needs to be ensured. This becomes important in view of the unfair distribution of Covid-19 vaccines being witnessed now. All countries, irrespective of their economic status, should have equal access to the malaria vaccine and all medicines. No one should be sidetracked over access to vaccines and other pharma formulations.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 8th, 2021.
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