While everyone has been focused on COVID-19 traditional killer diseases haven’t stopped killing. Among them is malaria which still kills scores of people. According to the WHO, Southern African continues to be a hotspot for malaria with over 230 million cases recorded since 2016. In fact, malaria kills more people than COVID-19 in Southern Africa.

To combat this WHO recently approved the use of a groundbreaking malaria vaccine in children and they did this with mainly Southern Africa in mind. According to the WHO children under the age of 5 years are the most vulnerable group. In 2019 this age group constituted 67% of all malaria deaths worldwide. This makes the vaccine decision a no brainer.

The new malaria vaccine that the WHO approved is called RTS,SA/AS01 (RTS,S). The main aim of approving this vaccine is to combat the spread of P. falciparum malaria transmission.

This is a historic moment. The long-awaited malaria vaccine for children is a breakthrough for science, child heath and malaria control. Using this vaccine on top of existing tools to preven malaria could save tens of thousands of young lives each year.

Dr TEdros Adhanom Ghebreyesus WHO Director General

It’s not clear when the vaccine will go for sale in Zimbabwe or how much it will cost. For this vaccine to reach the children that will need it the most it will have to be free. Malaria is most common in Zimbabwe’s eastern wet towns and areas where it is a leading killer disease. These areas are mostly rural and the people there are poor.