The Minister of Health Dr Jane Ruth Aceng has
asked Members of Parliament to support efforts by the government to roll out the
world’s first malaria vaccine in 2023.
The RTS,S malaria vaccine, the result of 35 years of research
and development, is the first-ever vaccine against a parasitic disease. It was launched in a 2019 pilot
programme, coordinated by the World Health Organisation-WHO in Ghana, Kenya and Malawi where it was
found to be about 50 per cent effective in protecting
against Malaria, one of the biggest killers of children under five.
Aceng said that the vaccine, that
the government wants to introduce in 2023 is highly required in Uganda, given the many
regions that are experiencing a surge in malaria cases. In 2020,
nearly half a million boys and girls died from the disease in Africa alone, a
rate of one death every minute.
“We are trying to look for all solutions to reduce
mortality and the vaccine is in short supply, only 10 countries can access it
and we are running to try and be one of the 10 countries,” Dr Aceng said.
Aceng was responding to a query by Amuria Woman MP Susan Amero about the safety of the
vaccine. She had earlier asked
the Minister to address parliament about plans to roll out the malaria vaccine
and whether it does not pose any risk to children. Amero told parliament that
some children had experienced side effects after being vaccinated against
Rubella, COVID-19 and other diseases.
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However, Aceng said that Uganda has not just started
vaccinating people, observing a need for everyone to appreciate and embrace
“Uganda is among the 194 subscribing countries to
the World Health Organisation -WHO and we vote. There is no medicine or vaccine
that comes into Uganda that is not WHO certified,” Aceng said, adding that there is no medicine in the world that
does not have side effects and countries only continue carrying out monitoring
with a view to finding solutions.
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Last month, GAVI-the
Vaccine Alliance put aside US Dollars 160 million to help countries in
Africa access this world’s first malaria vaccine. The money will be used
between 2022 and 2025, starting with Ghana, Kenya and Malawi- the three
countries where pilot introductions were done in 2019.
According to WHO, up to
a 1.3million children have so far benefitted from the vaccine in the three
African pilot countries.
Recently, the Pharmaceutical
company GSK was awarded a contract to produce the malaria vaccine so that more
children will be protected against the killer disease. The award, valued at up to USD
170 million, will lead to 18 million doses of the RTS, S vaccine being available
over the next three years, potentially saving thousands of young lives