Testing under way for malaria vaccine

A malaria vaccine for children, dubbed RTSS, is currently being tested in Uganda.

Experts developing a framework for the introduction of the vaccine say it should reduce child mortality rates from the mosquito-borne illness.

The vaccine, originally tested in 2008 as a pilot project, was found to boost immunity in the 1,700 Ugandan children who were inoculated, according to The New Vision, a Uganda-based news service. RTSS was first tested in Tanzania and Mozambique.

“Currently, the number of children who die of malaria is estimated at 100,000 every year, but if the vaccine is introduced this could save 60,000 lives,” Dr. Fred Kironde, a researcher at Makerere University College of Health Sciences, told The New Vision.

Kironde added that malaria has become increasingly resistant to existing treatments, particularly choroloquine and the anti-Artemisinin-based combination therapy.

Dr. Ambrose Talisuna, Uganda’s representative for Medicines for Malaria Venture, told The New Vision that the increase in malaria cases in Uganda is due to inadequate intervention. He thinks the lack of public access to treatment is causing too many fatalities.

 “Almost 320 people die of malaria every day," Talisuna told The New Vision. "There is need to intervene by increasing the number of people using nets and access to treatment."

The introduction of RTSS is supported by the Path Malaria Vaccine Initiative, which is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the multinational pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline.