Why in News?
- The World Health Organization has allowed widespread use of the world’s first malaria vaccine- RTS,S/AS01, which has reduced disease as part of a pilot project in parts of Africa. But its efficacy is modest, and the hunt for newer vaccines continues.
- The WHO endorsement paves the way for its use outside the pilot programme, in all areas where malaria is widely prevalent.
- But RTS,S/AS01, known by its brand name Mosquirix, is considered only the first step towards effective immunization of the global population. RTS,S/AS01 is able to prevent severe cases in only 30% of cases; the quest for more effective vaccines is still underway.
The global burden of malaria
- Malaria is a life-threatening disease caused by parasites that are transmitted to people through the bites of infected female Anopheles mosquitoes.
- It is preventable and curable.
- Still, in 2019, there were an estimated 229 million cases of malaria worldwide, and the estimated number of malaria deaths that year stood at 409,000.
- Children aged under 5 years are the most vulnerable group affected by malaria; in 2019, they accounted for 67% (274,000) of all malaria deaths worldwide.
- In 2019, India had an estimated 5.6 million cases of malaria compared to about 20 million cases in 2000, according to WHO.
- India carries 4% of the global malaria burden and contributes 87% of the total malaria cases in South-East Asia.
- India is in malaria elimination mode, and set targets for malaria-free status by 2030.