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Scientists Optimistic Of Developing New Malaria Vaccine

Nov 4, 2009, 2:33 PM | Article By: Pa Momodou Faal In Kenya

On the second day of MIM Pan-African Malaria Conference during a press conference held at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre, leading malaria researchers and product developers have revealed that in the next two to three years they will develop a new malaria vaccine.

Speaking to newsmen during the briefing, Dr. Sodiomon Sirima, the Director of the National Centre for Research and Training in Burkina-Faso said they are in the third phase of the development of the vaccine and seven countries are involved in the trial.

According to him, when the vaccine is introduced, it would be integrated in the Expanded Programme on Immunisation of various countries in Africa and would safe millions of lives.

He stated that new drugs are urgently needed because the old ones are no longer effective against the rapidly evolving malaria parasite, adding that the irrational use of artemisinin -combination therapies (ACT) as a single therapy can result in malaria parasite developing resistance, to arguably the world’s most effective anti-malarial.

In order to address this, scientists at the Multilateral Initiative on Malaria Conference disclosed that a broad range new drugs and compound classes are in the pipeline, some of which will specifically tackle emerging resistance and transmission.

Commenting also on new tools in vector control, scientists agreed that a proven arsenal of vector control tools designed to combat malaria-bearing mosquitoes are being scaled up to  meet 2010 targets for universal coverage of long lasting insecticide-treated nets (LNN) and Indoor Residual Spraying (IRS).They however agreed that research is needed to improve the performance of these tools.

Malaria scientists however pointed out that the malaria burden is now declining in many African countries.

According to scientists, the latest operational research on Home Management of Malaria (HMM) offers community health workers training and tools to diagnose and treat malaria within the community, increasing access in poor rural communities to effective training.

Commenting on drug access, scientists agreed that Artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACT) are currently the most effective form of treatment against malaria.

According to him, though 80 countries worldwide have adopted ACT as the first-line treatment at the same time people at risk of malaria infection must also regularly and correctly use net.

Scientists also revealed that the world largest malaria vaccine trial is now underway in seven African countries, namely Burkina-Faso, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique and Tanzania. It is expected to involve up to 16,000 children with more than 5000 children already enrolled.

Among the topics to be presented in day three of the conference by the scientists will include history of malaria eradication.