Former President John Dramani Mahama has commended research institutions in Ghana for the key role they played prior to the approval of the first malaria vaccine by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Mahama in a Facebook post highlighted the tireless efforts of Ghanaians researchers and institutions in Ghana that made the achievement possible.
“The Kintampo Health Research Centre, Agogo Presbyterian Hospital, Navrongo Health Research Centre, School of Public Health, University of Ghana, University of Health and Allied Sciences, the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research, and Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology led various clinical trials of the Malaria Vaccine in Ghana,” Mahama posted on Facebook.
According to Mahama, “This feat is one more reason why we must invest and significantly in cutting-edge science, research and development in Ghana”.
Malaria remains one of the world’s leading killers, claiming the life of one child every two minutes. Most of these deaths are in Africa.
In Ghana, WHO data suggests that about 20 percent of all children have malaria parasites in their blood.
Ghana was one of three African countries in which the malaria vaccine, known as RTS,S, was made available for trials on children up to 2 years of age.
Over 800,000 children were captured in the pilot phase in the three African countries since 2019.
In Ghana, the vaccine pilot programme was conducted in the Brong Ahafo, Central and Volta regions and some districts in the Upper East region.
WHO subsequently approved the RTS,S/AS01 (RTS,S) malaria vaccine among children in sub-Saharan Africa and in other regions with moderate to high P. falciparum malaria transmission.
Mahama whose government expressed interest in conducting the trials in Ghana is elated with the latest development.
He insisted that the “Technical Working Group [that led the clinical trials in Ghana] deserves National Awards.”
He had earlier commended the World Health Organisation for approving the first malaria vaccine after years of trials.
Mr. Mahama attributed the progress made to his administration’s decision to allow the trial to be done in Ghana.
“It is heartwarming to learn of the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) approval of a malaria vaccine after years of trial. It is refreshing and promising to learn that our expression of interest in 2016 to the WHO and active participation in the Malaria vaccine pilot programme has led to the approval of the vaccine to be deployed in Sub-Saharan Africa and other malaria-endemic regions.”
“I am elated at the prospect of vaccinating millions of African children who will be saved from avoidable deaths as a result of this scientific and Public Health breakthrough”.