The World Health Organization has chosen Ghana, Kenya and Malawi as the countries where the world’s first malaria vaccine will be tested next year on young children.
The injectable vaccine, known as RTS,S, or Mosquirix, was developed by the British pharmaceutical company, GlaxoSmithKline.
The test will be conducted on babies and toddlers, aged 5 to 17 months.
Malaria is a life-threatening disease caused by parasites that are transmitted to people through the bites of infected female mosquitoes.
WHO said in a statement the pilot program “will assess the feasibility of delivering the required four doses of RTS,S, the vaccine’s potential role in reducing childhood deaths, and its safety in routine use.
“The prospect of a malaria vaccine is great news. Information gathered in the pilot will help us make decisions on the wider use of this vaccine,” said Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa. “Combined with existing malaria interventions, such a vaccine would have the potential to save tens of thousands of lives in Africa.”
Malaria interventions include insecticide-treated nets and spraying indoor walls with insecticides.
In 2015, approximately 429,000 people died from malaria, the majority of them were young children in Africa.
Global efforts between 2000 and 2015, however, have led to a 62 percent reduction in malaria deaths.
According to WHO, “Africa bears the greatest burden of malaria worldwide.” In 2015, sub-Saharan Africa was home to 90 percent of malaria cases and 92 percent of malaria deaths.
Tuesday is World Malaria Day.