Category Archives: Vaccines

3 Ways You Can Help On World Malaria Day

Today is World Malaria Day. This year’s theme: End Malaria for Good.

While 6.8 million malaria deaths were averted between 2000 – 2015, there are still 3.2 billion people who are susceptible to contracting the disease every day and a half million children die from malaria every year.  There is a long way to go to save more lives especially for children under the age of five in sub-Saharan African where most deaths occur.

How Can You Help?

  • Donate to Malaria No More to help them eradicate malaria by 2040.
  • Learn the facts about malaria below in the CDC’s latest infographic and see why it needs to be eradicated.
  • Read more about the world’s first malaria vaccine trials (announced yesterday) in Kenya, Ghana, and Malawi that are slated to begin in 2018.

world-malaria-day-infographic_2017_1200

Photo: GAVI/Doune Porter/PATH/2012

Three African Countries Chosen for First Malaria Vaccine Trials

For decades, there has been consistent chatter, research, and hope for a potential malaria vaccine. Now, all three are finally coming to fruition to roll out the world’s first clinical malaria vaccine trials. The World Health Organization Regional Office for Africa (WHO/AFRO) announced today that Ghana, Kenya, and Malawi have been chosen for the WHO-coordinated pilot implementation program that will make the world’s first malaria vaccine available in 2018.

“The prospect of a malaria vaccine is great news. Information gathered in the pilot will help us make decisions on the wider use of this vaccine,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, in a statement. “Combined with existing malaria interventions, such a vaccine would have the potential to save tens of thousands of lives in Africa,” she added.

Sub-Saharan Africa records 90% of all global malaria cases. Even though the number of cases and deaths have dropped dramatically since 2001, the rate is still astronomically high. In fact, malaria still remains one of the deadliest killers on the African continent, especially for children under the age of five.

To date, the most effective way to curb malaria cases is via the use of bed nets and indoor residual spraying.  Unfortunately, 43% of sub-Saharan Africans are not protected against either and 429,000 people died from malaria in 2015. After spending time with mothers in Tanzania with Malaria No More, I saw this to be true. I met moms standing in long lines to receive new nets, but the ones they had used for years had holes throughout, rendering them virtually worthless.

There is now new hope to curb child deaths with the injectible malaria vaccine targeted to children within five to 17 months called RTS,S. The vaccine developed by GlaxoSmithKline. Malawi, Kenya, and Ghana were chosen for the following reasons according to the World Health Organization:

  • high coverage of long-lasting insecticidal treated nets (LLINs)
  • well-functioning malaria and immunization programs
  • a high malaria burden even after scale-up of LLINs,
  • and participation in the Phase III RTS,S malaria vaccine trial

The countries themselves will determine the areas in their country where the trials will ultimately take place. The $49.2 million cost of the trials will be taken up by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and UNITAID. The World Health Organization and GlaxoSmithKline will additionally provide complimentary funds for the malaria trial efforts.

Photo: UN Photo/Marie Frechon

The Importance of Vaccination Throughout One’s Life

In the interest of promoting more robust discourse around the importance of regular vaccinations for serious but preventable contagious conditions, MHA@GW is hosting a guest post series in honor of National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM). During the month of August, they featured blogs from thought leaders and advocates who were asked to answer the question “why immunize in 2015?” Read an excerpt from AgingCare.com Editor-in-Chief Ashley Huntsberry-Lett here, and read on to explore more posts on their blog. MHA@GW is the online master of health administration from the Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University.

“For many people, the topic of vaccinations evokes memories of anxious trips to the doctor for shots as young children. However, keeping up with recommended vaccine schedules through adulthood and old age is just as imperative as receiving initial doses in childhood.

As we age, our immune systems begin to function less efficiently. Healing and immune responses slow significantly because the body produces fewer immune cells and antibodies. This increases the likelihood of older individuals falling ill. According to the Census Bureau’s 2014 National Population Projections report , the projected number of Americans ages 65 and older is 82.3 million by 2040. With the elderly population surging as baby boomers age, the looming health implications are a point of substantial concern for the entire country.

Proper nutrition, regular exercise, adequate sleep and a positive mental state can all help keep an individual’s immune system in top condition. However, an all-around healthy lifestyle is not the only way to reduce the age-related risk of getting sick. Vaccinations play an important role in keeping each and every part of the population healthy — especially those with susceptible immune systems.” Read the rest of her post here.

Sophia Bernazzani is the community manager for MHA@GW and MPH@GW, both offered by the Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University. She’s passionate about global health, nutrition, and sustainability.

Triumph of Vaccines Lost to History: MHA@GW Observes National Immunization Awareness Month

JK_2U_NIAM_01-05
In the interest of promoting more robust discourse around the importance of regular vaccinations for serious but preventable contagious conditions, MHA@GW is hosting a guest post series in honor of National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM).
During the month of August, they featured blogs from thought leaders and advocates who were asked to answer the question “why immunize in 2015?” Read an excerpt from KC Kids Doc Natasha Burgert’s piece here, and read on to explore more posts on their blog. MHA@GW is the online master of health administration from the Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University.

“Our generation is losing access to these historically important stories of death and suffering from disease. The memories of lives that were taken away too early by now-preventable illnesses are hidden away in our own family trees. The retelling of the desperate pleas for a miracle is becoming silent.

We are now witnessing the consequences of this fading oral history.

Today’s news does not tell stories about the miracle of vaccines. The narrative has changed from reports of successful vaccines to waves of warning. The opportunity to protect our children from disease is being incorrectly framed as oppressive and dangerous. Meanwhile, the success of public health initiatives is being compromised. Outbreaks of vaccine-preventable disease are increasing. More kids are getting sick.

Today we each have an opportunity to change this trend. We live in a time our grandparents could only imagine — with one click we can reach our families, friends and entire community. We can let others know a way to stay protected and safe from tragedy.” Read the rest of her post here.

Sophia Bernazzani is the community manager for MHA@GW and MPH@GW, both offered by the Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University. She’s passionate about global health, nutrition, and sustainability. Follow her on Twitter.