A malaria vaccine is gradually being introduced in Ghana. This is very good news, malaria is devasting to the health and wellbeing of the individual and the community. As the German Press Agency reports:
Malaria affects between 300 and 350 million people – with around one million deaths a year in Africa. Economic loss because of malaria in the world is estimated at 12 billion dollars annually.
In Ghana, about 22 per cent of deaths in children under five, and about 44 per cent of all out-patient department attendances in hospitals, are caused by malaria.
The health ministry points out that the total cost of treating malaria by the individual, household, employers and government is about one-third of the health budget.
So although malaria is a preventable disease, it still accounts for one of the major contributions to poverty plaguing Africa, thereby slowing progress in development.
. . .
The refreshing news is that a version of the vaccine tested on 100 adult volunteers in the United States and 85 adults in Kenya has been found to be safe.
It has already been administered on about 2,000 children aged one to four years in Mozambique. Its results showed that 18 months after the children were vaccinated, the risk of getting malaria was reduced by one third, and the risk of severe malaria by about one half.
The results also showed that the protective effect of the malaria vaccine did not wane 24 months after the vaccine was administered.
For insight into the devasting effects of the disease, see the description of a malaria attack written by Ryszard Kapuscinski, and posted here.