Cameroon launches historic large-scale malaria vaccine rollout
Cameroon on Monday became the first country in the world to launch a systematic, large-scale malaria vaccination campaign for children under six months.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) called it a "historic step" in the fight against the disease, which remains one of the deadliest diseases for African children.
At a small hospital in the town of Soa, 20 kilometres from the capital Yaoundé, six-month-old Noah Ngah became the first to receive an injection of the RTS,S vaccine in the facility.
The hospital in Soa is one of many vaccination centres in the country's 42 priority districts, home to some 28 million people.
More than 300,000 doses of the vaccine, which is the result of more than 30 years of research and development in Belgium by pharmaceutical company GSK, were delivered to Cameroon in November.
The vaccine will be sold under the brand name Mosquirix and is the first to be licensed by the WHO.
Not a silver bullet
Willis Akhwale, special adviser to the End Malaria Council Kenya, said the rollout was a relief but not a "silver bullet".
"The efficacy, much as it is saving lives, is not 100 per cent, but even at 40 per cent it's saving lives and especially at the age bracket of two years old when you tend to get severe malaria," he told AFP.
Nearly 250 million cases of malaria are still recorded each year, causing nearly 620,000 deaths annually, 95 per cent of them in Africa. African children are particularly affected, according to the WHO.
A child is vaccinated against malaria at a health centre in Douala, Cameroon, on 22 January 2024 © Paul Ikome/Xinhua