Eight counties targeted for piloting new malaria vaccine

The Government plans to roll out a new malaria vaccine in the next two months in eight counties.

Kenya is among the three African countries which have been given the go-ahead to pilot the first successful vaccine.

The vaccine known as "RTS,S" will be rolled out in Kenya and Ghana in the coming weeks after Malawi, with a combined target of vaccinating around 360,000 children a year until 2022 in the three countries.

According to Dr Rashid Aman, the chief administrative secretary in the Ministry of Health, the eight counties have been chosen depending on malaria prevalence rates.

The counties targeted are Busia, Migori, Kisumu, Siaya, Bungoma, Kakamega, Homa Bay and Kwale, which have malaria rate higher than eight per cent.

Dr Aman said the most vulnerable are children below five years and expectant mothers.

He said Kenya relies heavily on donor funding in the fight against malaria and a big chunk of the funding comes from Global Fund and USAID.

Kenya received a grant of Sh33 billion from Global Fund, part of which will be used in the fight against malaria.

USAID officials yesterday announced that Kenya would receive Sh3.5 billion for malaria prevention.

"Malaria prevention continues to be a key a priority of our strategies as we head towards Universal Health Coverage. So far, 90 per cent of public health facilities have the capacity to test and treat malaria," said the chief administrative secretary.

Dr Aman also said the Ministry of Health will boost measures of eliminating malaria by borrowing some of the strategies used in four counties of Kenya – Kirinyaga, Nyeri, Laikipia and Nyandarua  – which report less than one case in every 1,000 persons.

"Sucess in elimination in these four counties will be used as an achievement in our strategy and extended to the eight counties with high malaria prevalence," he said.

According to the Head of National Malaria Control Programme, Dr Waqo Ejersa, malaria now accounts for 15 per cent of outpatients in the country while 70 per cent of the Kenya population is at risk of malaria.

He said the country records over 125 million infections every year, with 400,000 recorded deaths.

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