Nearly three decades after contracting malaria multiple times in childhood, Dr. Rose Jalang’o is now spearheading Kenya’s rollout of the groundbreaking malaria vaccine.

The RTS,S/AS01 (RTS,S) malaria vaccine was approved by the World Health Organization (WHO) in October for use in children in sub-Saharan Africa and other regions with moderate to high malaria transmission. The vaccine was found to be effective against P. falciparum, the most deadly malaria parasite, which is also the most prevalent in Africa.

The vaccine pilot program, which began in 2019 in Kenya, Ghana, and Malawi, involved more than 800,000 children. Countries were selected in part due to the performance of their immunization programs, current malaria interventions, and the feasibility of reaching the eligible number of children required for the pilot.

Jalang’o, a medical doctor now working with the National Vaccines and Immunization program at the Ministry of Health in Kenya, is originally from Kisumu, a Kenyan port city where malaria is endemic.

Malaria, a life-threatening disease caused by parasites, is spread to people through mosquito bites, and is both preventable and treatable. However, it can also be deadly, and children under 5 are particularly vulnerable, with those in Africa facing the greatest risk. In 2019, the WHO African Region accounted for 94% of all malaria cases and deaths — with 23% of global deaths being in Nigeria alone.

Together with a team at Kenya’s Ministry of Health, Jalang’o helped coordinate the rollout of the pilot malaria vaccine, which is given to children in four doses at 6 months, 7 months, 9 months, and 24 months.

Read the full article about Malaria vaccine by Jacky Habib at Global Citizen.