April 25, 2019
3 min read

Top stories for World Malaria Day 2019

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In 2015, WHO put a challenge to the medical and research community: reduce malaria incidence and mortality rates by 90%, eliminate malaria in at least 35 countries and prevent a resurgence of malaria in malaria-free countries, all by 2030. But despite progress in prevention and control tools, cases of illness and death related to malaria remain high in many areas and the burden is highest among young children.

In 2017, there were an estimated 219 million cases and 435,000 deaths due to malaria in 87 countries, according to WHO, which reported last year that progress against malaria has stalled.

“It is one of the main killers of African children. Every 2 minutes, a child dies of malaria and that is mostly in sub-Saharan Africa,” Pedro L. Alonso, MD, PhD, director of WHO’s Global Malaria Programme, said during a recent news conference. “We are talking about one of the big global health problems we are facing.”

In advance of World Malaria Day, which is observed every year on April 25, WHO announced the launch of the landmark Malaria Vaccine Implementation Program, which will provide vaccination against the disease to children in three African countries using RTS,S (GlaxoSmithKline).

“This is a vaccine of firsts. It’s the first and only vaccine to show protection against malaria in young children in Africa,” Kate O’Brien, MD, director of WHO’s Department of Immunization, Vaccines and Biologicals, said in the news conference. “It is also the first malaria vaccine to be recommended by WHO for phased introduction in selected areas in Africa. It’s the first malaria vaccine to reach children in Africa through a routine immunization program, not through a clinical trial.”

To mark the occasion of World Malaria Day, Infectious Disease News has compiled a list of the top stories in malaria over the past year. – by Marley Ghizzone

WHO launches malaria vaccine program in 3 African countries

The pilot program launched by WHO aims to immunize around 360,000 children each year in Malawi, Ghana and Kenya. The program will continue for 4 years. Read more.

Artesunate becomes first-line treatment for severe malaria in US

Although it is not FDA approved, artesunate became the first-line treatment for severe malaria in the United States starting on April 1, according to clinical guidance issued by the CDC. Clinicians must call a CDC malaria hotline to obtain the medication. Read more.


Q&A: Malaria vaccine developments

Infectious Disease News spoke with James G. Beeson, MBBS, PhD, deputy director and head of malaria research at the Burnet Institute and adjunct professor at Monash University, and Michelle Boyle, PhD, researcher at the Burnet Institute, about the challenges and strategies for developing a suitable malaria vaccine. Read more.

Malaria vaccine candidate PAMVAC passes test in humans

A phase 1 clinical trial of the malaria vaccine candidate PAMVAC, designed to protect against pregnancy-associated malaria, found that the vaccine is safe, well tolerated and induced functionally active antibodies in humans. Read more.

Common insect repellents mask human odors from malaria mosquitoes

Researchers found that two commonly used insect repellents, including DEET, mask human smell, making people invisible to Anopheles mosquitoes, which transmit malaria. Read more.

Azithromycin MDA did not reduce mortality, hospitalization rates

Results of a randomized trial published in The New England Journal of Medicine suggest that including azithromycin in a mass drug administration, or MDA, to prevent malaria did not reduce mortality or hospitalizations among children aged 5 years and younger. However, azithromycin modestly reduced the burden of infectious diseases like respiratory and gastrointestinal infections. Read more.


CDC. Malaria's impact Worldwide. https://www.cdc.gov/malaria/malaria_worldwide/impact.html. Accessed April 24, 2019.

mviPATH. RTS,S; Ghana, Kenya, and Malawi to take part in WHO malaria vaccine pilot programme. https://www.malariavaccine.org/malaria-and-vaccines/first-generation-vaccine/rtss. Accessed April 24, 2019.

WHO. First malaria vaccine in Africa: A potential new tool for child health and improved malaria control. https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/272456/WHO-CDS-GMP-2018.05-eng.pdf?ua=1. Accessed April 24, 2019.

WHO. Malaria: Global targets. https://www.who.int/malaria/areas/global_targets/en/. Accessed April 24, 2019.

WHO. Short overview of the malaria vaccine implementation programme. https://www.who.int/malaria/media/malaria-vaccine-overview/en/. Accessed April 24, 2019.

WHO. Q&A on the malaria vaccine implementation programme (MVIP). https://www.who.int/malaria/media/malaria-vaccine-implementation-qa/en/. Accessed April 24, 2019.