NAIROBI, Oct. 14 (Xinhua) -- Kenya's Ministry of Health said on Thursday that the roll-out of malaria vaccine will be scaled up in order to boost efforts to eliminate the tropical disease which is a leading killer of children under five years and pregnant women by 2030.
Mutahi Kagwe, cabinet secretary in the Ministry of Health said the government will invest in supportive infrastructure and manpower to expand access to malaria vaccine in regions where the disease is endemic.
"Vaccination is part of Kenya's ambitious multifaceted malaria fighting strategy and we will continue expanding its use to ensure it benefits vulnerable children and pregnant mothers," Kagwe said at a briefing in Nairobi.
He said the recent positive assessment on the efficacy and safety of malaria vaccine candidate called RTS, S by the World Health Organization (WHO) has encouraged Kenya to expand its coverage in high-burden regions.
According to Kagwe, the malaria vaccine that was piloted in Kenya, Ghana and Malawi in 2019 has proved effective in averting severe ailment, hospitalizations and fatalities among high-risk demographics.
He revealed that eight counties in western Kenya have been administering the malaria vaccine as part of routine childhood immunization, leading to a significant drop in infections and deaths.
Kagwe said that more than 200,000 Kenyan children have received at least one dose of the malaria vaccine, adding that no hesitancy has been reported amid awareness campaigns targeting parents, caregivers and health workers.
He noted that the vaccine has provided valuable additional protection to children and it is part of the larger package of malaria fighting tools that includes timely diagnosis, treatment and use of insecticide-treated nets.
Kagwe said the Ministry of Health will rely on regulatory provisions, experts' advice, infection and fatality data to inform expanded use of the malaria vaccine.
Kagwe said that enhanced use of insecticide-treated nets, indoor spraying, effective diagnosis and treatment resulted in a decline in the proportion of the population affected by malaria from 8 to 5.6 percent between 2015 to 2020.