Malaria vaccine - The World Health Organization (WHO) said in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, on Sunday that a vaccine for malaria may just be three years away. The WHO Director in charge of Global Malaria Programme, Dr. Robert Newman, said on the sidelines of the ongoing preparatory meetings to this week's African Union (AU) Special Summit on HIV/ AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria in Abuja, tagged Abuja+12, that malaria vaccine trials were going on in eleven sites across seven countries in Africa.
He said there was remarkable progress in the trials, with signals that the world might have its first successful malaria vaccine by the year 2015.
Experts said a malaria vaccine might offer the greatest hope of achieving significantly improved malaria control, particularly in Africa, where the ecological habitat is such that effective mosquito control has proved difficult or impossible to maintain.
Dr. Newman stressed that there was no successful vaccine yet for malaria treatment, despite the fact that scientists have been on a search for one for a very long time.
'There is a trial against malaria vaccine on-going in eleven sites in seven countries in Africa. The name of that vaccine is RLTSS and preliminary results have shown efficacy in different age groups of anywhere and with 55 percent efficiency in preventing malaria.
'If you think about the number of cases of malaria, the public health benefit of that could be amazing. But the trial is not finished yet. That trial will finish in having data available in 2014. So, WHO is tracking the progress very carefully. We have experts committed to this. There are people who are looking at this,” the WHO official said.
Dr. Newman, who disclosed that 660,000 people die yearly from malaria globally, said: 'Most of the deaths occur on African continent while most of victims are tragically children under the age of five and the highest burden here in 10 countries in Africa, which account for 70 percent of the global burden.”
The WHO official noted that tremendous progress had been made in the fight against the disease, and that the Summit - slated for Monday and Tuesday - would provide further opportunities to re-strategise and offer greater commitments to the fight against the disease.
“For the last ten years, it’s been such tremendous progress in the fight against malaria globally, even more so here in Africa because we have incredibly ambitious cause for ourselves and for 2013 and beyond.
'A number of persons have come together, World Health Organization, Roll Back Malaria partnership, the UN Special Envoy for Financing Health-related MDGs and Malaria and the International Federation of the Red Cross. All are working together to have a Situation Room that is going to track financing, commodities, intervention coverage in those ten highest burdened countries,' he said.
WHO noted that 44 African nations have recorded over 50% reductions in malaria cases over the past decade.
The Executive Director of the Roll Back Malaria Partnership, Dr. Fatoumata Nafo-Traoré, had earlier said at the meetings being held ahead of the Abuja+12 Special Summit that malaria deaths in Africa were down by one-third, compared to year 2000.
'More than a million lives have been saved from malaria since year 2000, most of them among African children under 5 years of age,' she noted.
PANA reports that the Abuja+12 Special Summit is aimed at reviewing the status of implementation of the Declarations and Frameworks for Action from the 2000 Abuja Summit on Roll Back Malaria; 2001 Abuja Summit on HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Other Related Infectious Diseases (ORID), and the 2006 Special Summit on HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Other Related Infectious Diseases (ORID).
The theme of the Summit is: “Ownership, Accountability and Sustainability of HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria Response in Africa: Past, Present and the Future.'