WMD: Why The War Against Malaria Matters

By Paul Ejime

News Analysis:

IT IS ANOTHER World Malaria Day (WMD) today, one year after the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended two candidate anti-malaria vaccines for the prevention of the mosquito-borne disease which afflicts more than 247 million people worldwide causing some 619,000 deaths.

Africa bears the highest burden of malaria attacks (more than 90% and loses more than USD$12 billion a year in unearned income), with pregnant women and children under age five as the most vulnerable groups.

Apart from billions of dollars lost to cocktails of treatment drugs, preventive measures and hospital admissions, malaria also costs the World millions of man-hours of labour and missed school attendance.

Unsurprisingly, Nigeria the most populous Black nation, has along with Ghana provisionally approved the use of R21/Matrix-M vaccine, with a 77% efficacy rate shown in initial trials and significantly higher antibody levels than the first vaccine – the RTS,S.

WHO member States instituted the WMD in 2007 to raise awareness, mobilize global action, and celebrate progress in the fight against the mosquito-borne disease.

The theme for 2024 is Accelerating the fight against Malaria for a more equitable World.

Malaria’s human and material devastations may not be as dramatic and headline-catching as the Russia-Ukraine or Israel-Hamas conflicts, but the war against Malaria matters because the disease kills more people annually than many other wars combined.

After avoidable losses due to the delay in the development of anti-malaria vaccines, governments and the international health community, especially the influential pharmaceutical companies owe the World a moral duty to fast-track the mass production and supply of anti-malaria vaccines for seamless accessibility and availability of the vaccines to needy populations worldwide.

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