Benin, Liberia, Sierra Leone Roll Out Malaria Vaccine

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Benin, Liberia and Sierra Leone has began mass rollouts of a WHO-approved malaria vaccine on Wednesday, becoming the latest African countries to join the recently introduced routine malaria vaccine programme.

The RTS,S vaccine will be administered to children aged five months or older in four scheduled doses.

Benin received 215,900 doses of the vaccine, while Liberia received 112,000 doses and Sierra Leone 550,000 doses.

The WHO, Unicef and the global vaccine alliance (Gavi), which are coordinating the programme, said in a joint statement that the rollout was “a significant step forward for malaria prevention in Africa”, which is the hardest hit by malaria.

In 2022, 94% of all malaria cases and 95% of global malaria deaths happened in Africa, according to WHO.

The vaccine has already been successfully rolled out in Cameroon, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Kenya and Malawi, after pilots in three of those countries caused a 13% drop in deaths of children of eligible age.

Several more African countries are expected to join the rollout of the RTS,S vaccine in the coming months, amid an anticipated rollout of the second WHO-approved jab – R21.