“The vaccine saves lives, but it won’t be a panacea,” said Dr. Githinji Gitahi, the Chief Executive Officer of Amref Health Africa, a non-governmental organization.
The vaccine, called Mosquirix, targets the deadliest and most common malaria parasite in Africa – Plasmodium falciparum. While the vaccines are “a great addition to the fight” against malaria, Dr. Gitahi, the health authorities still have to apply “a Swiss cheese strategy” that includes insecticide-treated mosquito nets and indoor spraying.
Faith Walucho is the mother of an 11-month-old child who was recently diagnosed with malaria. The 29-year-old used clothes dealer in the city of Kisumu, western Kenya, said she received the news about the vaccines “with great pleasure”. An estimated 10,700 deaths from malaria are recorded annually in Kenya, and Kisumu, on the shores of Lake Victoria, is one of the malaria regions where the vaccine has been tested.
As soon as she can get a dose for her daughter, Ms. Walucho said, “I’ll run” to get it.
In Malawi’s capital, Lilongwe, Jenala Mwafulirwa, a 52-year-old mother of five, welcomed the news of the vaccine, saying that too many children in her family had been lost to the disease, especially in rural areas with access to health care is limited.
“This vaccine comes at the right time,” she said.
But in some places people expressed skepticism about the vaccine, also because of distrust of the World Health Organization.
“I wonder why you want to help Africa,” says Mamadou Tounkara, a 40-year-old teacher in Senegal’s capital Dakar. He asked why the WHO wasn’t funding better sanitation and sanitation systems instead. “If the WHO wants to help eradicate this disease, they can do it without the vaccine.”
However, health officials say the vaccine, which has been in development for more than 30 years, has already proven itself to be an important weapon in the war on the disease.