New Malaria Vaccine
In 2015, more than 429,000 people died as a result of malaria (CNN.com). 394,000 of these deaths were in the World Health Organization’ s (WHO) African regions (who.int). However, that was a 62% decrease in the number of deaths since 2000 (CNN.com). Between 2000 and 2015, there was a 41% decrease in the number of malaria cases; these reductions are due to awareness of the disease and the active effort to use bug nets in areas where malaria is prominent (CNN.com). Plasmodium falciparum is the deadliest strain of malaria (CNN.com).
In recent years, WHO has been working on a new vaccine for malaria. The research for the vaccination have now reached Phase 4(who.int). In Phase 3, which were lab tests, the vaccine was preventing 4 in 10 cases of malaria (who.int). The vaccine is the only vaccine that has been shown to be protective of the patient who has received it (who.int). This is not a medicine that will replace current medicines, and WHO recommends that the medicine be used to complement current malaria treatments (who.int). In Phase 4, the vaccination will be taken to Ghana, Kenya, and Malawi in 2018 CNN.com). These particular countries were selected because they already have existing malaria programs, but they still have a high number of cases (BBC.com). The trial will involve 750,000 children between the age of five and seventeen months (BBC.com). Approximately half of the children will receive the vaccination and the other half will not so that WHO can judge the effectiveness of the vaccine (BBC.com). The vaccination will be given to children through pre-existing immunization programs (who.int). The first dose will be given as soon as possible after the child is five months old, the second and third in monthly intervals following the first dose, and the final dose will be given 15-18 months following the third dose (who.int).
There are general concerns that the vaccine will not be successful because the of amount of time needed for the doses, but it is predicted to cut the most severe cases by 33% (BBC.com). The vaccination is also predicted to decrease the number of cases needing hospitalization and blood transfusions (BBC.com).
The following article was contributed by Jerri Guo.
Malaria is a life-threatening disease caused by parasites that are transmitted to people through the bites of infected mosquitoes. In 2010, malaria caused an estimated 655,000 deaths (with an uncertainty range of 537,000 to 907,000), mostly among African children.
Malaria is preventable and curable. Increased malaria prevention and control measures are dramatically reducing the malaria burden in many places. The intensity of transmission depends on factors related to the parasite, the vector, the human host, and the environment.
Following are excerpts from World Health Organization (WHO) information page, which is located here: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs094/en/
- Malaria is a life-threatening disease caused by parasites that are transmitted to people through the bites of infected mosquitoes.
- In 2010, malaria caused an estimated 655,000 deaths (with an uncertainty range of 537,000 to 907,000), mostly among African children.
- Malaria is preventable and curable.
- Increased malaria prevention and control measures are dramatically reducing the malaria burden in many places.
- The intensity of transmission depends on factors related to the parasite, the vector, the human host, and the environment.
Diagnosis and Treatment
- Early diagnosis and treatment of malaria reduces disease and prevents deaths. It also contributes to reducing malaria transmission.
- The best available treatment, particularly for P. falciparum malaria, is artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT).
- WHO recommends that all cases of suspected malaria be confirmed using parasite-based diagnostic testing (either microscopy or rapid diagnostic test) before administering treatment. Results of parasitological confirmation can be available in 15 minutes or less. Treatment solely on the basis of symptoms should only be considered when a parasitological diagnosis is not possible.
- Resistance to antimalarial medicines is a recurring problem. Resistance of P. falciparum to previous generations of medicines, such as chloroquine and sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine (SP), became widespread in the 1970s and 1980s, undermining malaria control efforts and reversing gains in child survival.
- Resistance to artemisinins was reported on the Cambodia-Thailand border in 2009, and has since been reported in Myanmar and Viet Nam. If resistance to artemisinins develops and spreads to other large geographical areas, the public health consequences could be dire, as no alternative antimalarial medicines will be available for at least five years.
- WHO recommends the routine monitoring of antimalarial drug resistance, and supports countries to strengthen their efforts in this important area of work.
- Vector control is the main way to reduce malaria transmission at the community level. It is the only intervention that can reduce malaria transmission from very high levels to close to zero.
- For individuals, personal protection against mosquito bites represents the first line of defense for malaria prevention.
- Two forms of vector control are effective in a wide range of circumstances:
- Insecticide-treated mosquito nets (ITNs)
- Long-lasting insecticidal nets (LLINs) are the preferred form of ITNs for public health distribution programmes. WHO recommends coverage for all at-risk persons; and in most settings. The most cost effective way to achieve this is through provision of free LLINs, so that everyone sleeps under a LLIN every night.
- Indoor spraying with residual insecticides. Antimalarial medicines can also be used to prevent malaria.
According to the UNICEF website, malaria takes the life of a child in Africa every 30 seconds. You can purchase a mosquito net to be sent by UNICEF for under $20.00 at http://www.unicefusa.org. If you know of other sources, please let us know at the Unity Women’s Desk (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The nets are not the total solution. Studies have found that many people in rural Africa do not use the nets or do not use them as prescribed. Ways are being sought to encourage net use and to find other, more acceptable ways to prevent malaria. Scientists are also working on a vaccine; however, because there are several types of malarial infection, no one solution has been found. Please pray for an end to malaria.