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Anti-Malaria Vaccine Shows Promise in Africa

Martin from SOS Children's Village Bangui
Martin from SOS Children's Village Bangui

The world’s first vaccine against malaria, a mosquito-borne disease that killed 781,000 people in 2009, may be available in the next few years.

A trial conducted by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and the nonprofit PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative shows that the experimental vaccine cut in half the risk of African children contracting the fatal illness. The trial was held in seven sub-Saharan countries in Africa, where malaria kills hundreds of thousands of children every year.

The vaccine prevented malaria in five-to-17-month-olds. Results for babies age six to 12 weeks are expected in a year. The drug maker GSK is aiming to place the vaccine on the market in 2015, if all goes smoothly.

According to AlertNet, the upbeat findings were presented at a recent malaria forum sponsored by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in Seattle, and published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Scientists caution that the new vaccine, known as RTS.S or Mosquirix, will help control malaria, not eradicate it. Used together with measures that have already shown success in significantly reducing malaria -- insecticide-treated bed nets, spraying, and anti-malaria drugs -- the vaccine appears to bolster the attack against the disease.

SOS Children tackles malaria

Through our 77 SOS Medical Centres, we provide thousands of children and families with malaria treatments. We also run educational programmes to prevent the disease in the first instance.

Malaria, like other lethal illnesses, has resulted in thousands of orphaned children without parents to care for them. SOS Children provides a home to those orphaned by the disease. We also provide  specialist medical care for those children who come to us suffering from malaria, to nurse them back to health.

Martin’s story

Martin came to live at SOS Children's Village Bangui in the Central African Republic when he was nearly two years old. He was pale, weakened and suffered from several diseases such as malaria, aggravated bronchitis and malnutrition. As soon as he arrived at the Children’s Village, staff took him to the local hospital for emergency treatment. His SOS mother stayed by his side day and night. Following several weeks of treatment, Martin came back to the Village to continue his treatment at home. It was a difficult time for Martin as well as his SOS mother. She says "Martin did not eat, he barely asked for something to eat."

However, Martin began to recover little by little as soon as his treatment ended. Today, he is a completely transformed child who runs and plays in the village with his SOS brothers and sisters. "I see remarkable changes in him every day. He is becoming a new child compared to the one who arrived here some months ago." says his SOS mother.