After COVID-19 Jab, BioNTech Sets Sights On Malaria Vaccine

A health worker shows a vial of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine against COVID-19 at the Pascual Guerrero Olympic stadium, in Cali, Colombia, on April 26, 2021. Luis ROBAYO / AFP

 

Germany’s BioNTech, which developed a coronavirus vaccine with US giant Pfizer in record time, said Monday it aimed to start trialling a malaria vaccine next year using the same breakthrough mRNA technology.

If successful, the vaccine could be a crucial step in the fight against the mosquito-borne disease, which kills more than 400,000 people a year — mainly young children in Africa.

“We will do whatever it takes to develop a safe and effective mRNA-based malaria vaccine that will prevent the disease, reduce mortality and ensure a sustainable solution for the African continent and other regions affected by this disease,” BioNTech CEO Ugur Sahin said in a statement.

The company said it will assess several vaccine candidates and begin clinical trials by the end of 2022.

The project is backed by the World Health Organization, the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the European Union.

READ ALSO: World Bank To Finance Extra COVID-19 Jabs For Poorer Nations

BioNTech said it was also looking at setting up an mRNA hub in Africa so that future vaccines can be manufactured and distributed on the continent.

The planned malaria vaccine would use the same messenger RNA method that made its debut with the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine, which was the first jab against Covid to be approved in the West in late 2020.

The coronavirus jab developed by US rival Moderna also uses mRNA technology.

Scientists believe mRNA vaccines, which provoke an immune response by delivering genetic molecules containing the code for key parts of a pathogen into human cells, could be a game-changer against many diseases.

They also take less time to develop than traditional vaccines.

BioNTech’s Covid-19 shot was developed and approved by regulators in less than a year.

– ‘Realistic goal’ –

“We are witnessing the start of a revolution in medical science, the revolution of messenger RNA,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said at Monday’s online launch event.

“Eradicating malaria is now a realistic goal and now we know that it can be achieved already in this generation.”

In a conference call with reporters, Sahin said he believed BioNTech’s malaria efforts have “a high likelihood for success”.

The fight against malaria received a boost in April when researchers from Britain’s Oxford University announced that their Matrix-M vaccine candidate had become the first to surpass the WHO’s threshold of 75-percent efficacy, in a study on infants in Burkina Faso.

A large-scale, final stage trial is ongoing.

AFP

Nigeria Needs N1.89trn To Tackle Malaria – Health Minister

Zika, w.h.o
A file photo of a mosquito.

 

Nigeria needs over a trillion naira to effectively combat malaria in the country, Dr Osagie Ehanire has said.

He explained that of the total sum, the country required more than N350 billion naira to fight the disease in 2021 alone.

Ehanire, the Minister of Health, disclosed this on Friday a news conference in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

“The implementation of the new strategic plan will cost N1.89 trillion; about N352 billion is required for the year 2021 programme implementation,” he told reporters ahead of the World Malaria Day scheduled to hold on Sunday.

The minister added, “The theme of this year’s commemoration is Zero Malaria – Draw the Line Against Malaria, and the slogan ‘Stand Up, Take Action’ which is to empower communities in various countries to take ownership of preventing malaria and providing proper care and treatment to those in need, are germane.”

He acknowledged that the Federal Government does not have the adequate amount required to fight the disease this year.

Ehanire attributed this to the prevailing economic circumstances occasioned by the coronavirus pandemic, just as in other countries.

He, therefore, called on the private sector, various corporate organisations, and patriotic individuals to support the government to tackle malaria.

 

Hope For Vaccine

The minister disclosed that the government was working to establish a Malaria Council that would help to drive domestic funding for the elimination of the disease.

According to him, the commemoration of World Malaria Day provides the government with the opportunity to share the progress made, best practices, and create awareness on the scourge of malaria.

Malaria, a disease caused by a parasite spread to humans through the bites of infected mosquitoes, kills more than 400,000 people a year, mostly children in sub-Saharan Africa.

As experts across the world step up efforts to combat the disease, a recent study shows that a malaria vaccine from the Oxford Institute is 77 per cent effective for the treatment of COVID-19.

The study conducted by Oxford University and released on Friday indicated that clinical trials had been carried out on 450 children between the ages of five to 17 months.

If safety is assured, health authorities say that it will become the key weapon in eliminating the disease, which is responsible for half a million deaths a year, mostly in children.

Oxford Institute Develops Malaria Vaccine With 77 Percent Effectiveness

Laboratory Scientists Commit To Eradication Of Malaria In Nigeria

 

A recent study shows that a malaria vaccine from the Oxford Institute is 77 percent effective for the treatment of COVID-19.

Malaria kills more than 400,000 people a year, mostly children in sub-Saharan Africa.

But the study conducted by Oxford University and released on Friday indicated that clinical trials had been carried out on 450 children between the ages of five to 17 months.

This is coming at a time that the vaccine is entering larger-scale human trials to test for rarer side effects.

Authorities believe that if the safety of the vaccine is guaranteed, it will be a game-changer in tackling the disease which has continued to kill many across the globe.

“These are very exciting results showing unprecedented efficacy levels from a vaccine that has been well-tolerated in our trial programme,” Halidou Tinto, the trial’s principal investigator, said in a statement.

“We look forward to the upcoming Phase III trial to demonstrate large-scale safety and efficacy data for a vaccine that is greatly needed in this region.”

Although Malaria is preventable and curable, data from the World Health Organisation estimates there were 229 million cases worldwide in 2019 and 409,000 deaths.

Malaria is a life-threatening disease caused by parasites that are transmitted to people through a mosquito bite and it begins with symptoms such as fever, headaches and chills and, without treatment, can progress quickly to severe illness and often death.

According to the study author and Director of the Jenner Institute in Oxford, Adrian Hill, the results were thrilling.

Despite decades of research, there is only one other vaccine against malaria and it is about 36 percent effective.

Hill said it was imperative that regulators treated the vaccine with the same urgency as those against Covid-19. “Malaria is a public health emergency. More people died from malaria last year in Africa than COVID-19 by a factor of at least four,” he said.

“That’s a real technical challenge,” Prof Hill said, adding that “The vast majority of vaccines haven’t worked because it’s very difficult.”

Malaria Cases Rise In Jigawa After Flood Hits 17 LGAs

Zika, w.h.o
A file photo of a mosquito.

 

Malaria cases in Jigawa State have risen as a result of the flood that killed dozens of people and left thousands homeless.

The chairman of the Civil Society in Malaria Control, Immunisation and Nutrition (ACOMIN) in Jigawa, Baba Ali, confirmed this to Channels Television on Saturday.

Ali, who is from one of the Local Government Areas (LGAs) worst affected by the flood, decried that hospitals have become congested and people were unaware of measures to prevent themselves from becoming victims of the disease.

“From August this year, Jigawa State began experiencing flood and this displaced so many people, especially around the Hadejia axis; this exposed them to mosquito bites and this is why we are having so many congestions in the hospital,“ Ali said.

He added, “It is in line with this that our organisation is working with the community members to enlighten the general public on how to prevent themselves from mosquito bites and also to access the free malaria control facility provided in the state.”

On his part, the programme manager of (ACOMIN), Auwal Ibrahim, believes residents must own the activities of malaria control in the environment.

He said, “In one community in Auyo LGA, the people contributed money and built a temporary toilet for their health facility.

“In another community at Jahun LGA, the people came together, working as a group to clear grasses and level the ground in front of their facility.”

The Director of Public Health in Jigawa, Dr Umar Balangu, who also confirmed the situation, said the state government was doing everything in its power to contain the situation.

He noted that mosquito nets were distributed in some communities, as well as fumigation exercise.

According to Balangu, the government is also providing free medical treatment for women and under-five children in the state.

He stated that this has gone a long way in controlling the recent increase in the cases of malaria in Jigawa.

The Nigerian Metrological Agency had predicted the possibility of flood in 12 LGAs in Jigawa, but at least 17 LGAs were affected.

A total of 41 lives were lost to floods and over 10,000 people were displaced.

WHO Warns Malaria Deaths Could Double Amid COVID Pandemic

 

The new coronavirus pandemic could severely disrupt access to anti-malaria nets and drugs in sub-Saharan Africa, the World Health Organization said Thursday, warning that malaria deaths risked doubling if efforts are not urgently scaled up.

The UN health agency called on countries in sub-Saharan Africa, where nearly 95 percent of all the world’s malaria cases and deaths occur, to rapidly distribute malaria prevention and treatment tools now, before they become too overwhelmed with novel coronavirus cases.

“Severe disruptions to insecticide-treated net campaigns and access to antimalarial medicines could lead to a doubling in the number of malaria deaths in sub-Saharan Africa this year compared to 2018,” the WHO warned, citing new modelling analysis.

The analysis, it said, considers nine scenarios for potential disruptions in access to core malaria control tools during the pandemic across 41 countries, and the resulting possible increases in cases and deaths.

Under the worst-case scenario, in which all campaigns to distribute insecticide-treated nets are suspended and there is a 75-percent reduction in access to effective antimalarial medicines, “the estimated tally of malaria deaths in sub-Saharan Africa in 2020 would reach 769,000,” WHO said.

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That is twice the number of deaths reported in the region in 2018, it stressed, adding that such an increase would mean returning to malaria mortality levels not seen in two decades.

The hike would have particularly dire consequences for young children, with those under five making up more than two-thirds of all malaria deaths in 2018.

– ‘Critical window’ –

WHO stressed that so far, sub-Saharan African countries had reported relatively few cases in the COVID-19 pandemic, which has killed more than 180,000 people globally and infected more than 2.6 million.

But the agency, which has long warned that weak health systems in the region risked becoming seriously overwhelmed as cases increase, said the disease was picking up pace there.

“This means that countries across the region have a critical window of opportunity to minimise disruptions in malaria prevention and treatment and save lives at this stage of the COVID-19 outbreak,” it said.

“Mass vector control campaigns should be accelerated, ensuring protection for both health workers and communities against COVID-19 transmission,” it said.

In a separate statement Thursday, the WHO also reiterated its call to maintain immunisation services worldwide to ensure the measures taken to halt the pandemic do not end up sparking a resurgence of vaccine-preventable diseases like measles and polio.

“While the world strives to develop a new vaccine for COVID-19 at record speed, we must not risk losing the fight to protect everyone, everywhere against vaccine-preventable diseases,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in the statement.

“These diseases will come roaring back if we do not vaccinate.”

AFP

Nigeria Recorded Highest Rate Of Malaria Cases Globally In 2018 – WHO

Zika, w.h.o

 

A new report by the World Health Organisation (WHO) says Nigeria accounted for more than half of all malaria cases worldwide with 25 percent, topping the list of 19 countries in sub-Saharan Africa and India which carried almost 85 percent.

According to the WHO report, six African countries; Nigeria (25 percent), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (12 percent), Uganda (5 percent), and Côte d’Ivoire, Mozambique, and Niger (4 percent each) accounted for more than half of all malaria cases worldwide.

The World malaria report 2019 released on Wednesday by the WHO, said in 2018, an estimated 228 million cases of malaria occurred worldwide, compared with 251 million cases in 2010 and 231 million cases in 2017.

According to the report, the incidence rate of malaria declined globally between 2010 and 2018, from 71 to 57 cases per 1000 population at risk.

The prevalence of malaria was attributed to Plasmodium falciparum parasite in the WHO African Region, accounting for 99.7 per cent of estimated malaria cases in 2018, as well as in the WHO South-East Asia Region (50 percent), the WHO Eastern Mediterranean Region (71 percent) and the WHO Western Pacific Region (65 percent).

READ ALSO: I’ll Do Everything Possible To Ensure A Stable Liberia, Buhari Vows

The reports revealed that in 2018, an estimated 405,000 deaths were recorded from malaria globally, while children aged less than 5 years accounted for 67 percent (272,000) of all malaria deaths worldwide.

“Nearly 85 percent of global malaria deaths in 2018 were concentrated in 20 countries in the WHO African Region and India; Nigeria accounted for almost 24 percent of all global malaria deaths, followed by the Democratic Republic of the Congo (11 percent), the United Republic of Tanzania (5 percent), and Angola, Mozambique and Niger (4 percent each).

“In 2018, about 11 million pregnancies in moderate and high transmission sub-Saharan African countries would have been exposed to malaria infection. In 2018, the prevalence of exposure to malaria infection in pregnancy was highest in the West African subregion and Central Africa (each with 35 percent), followed by East and Southern Africa (20 percent). About 39 percent of these were in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Nigeria.”

The report also revealed that 11 countries with a high burden to high impact rate recorded about 155 million malaria cases in 2018.

“Of the 10 highest-burden countries in Africa, Ghana and Nigeria reported the highest absolute increases in cases of malaria in 2018 compared with 2017. The burden in 2018 was similar to that of 2017 in all other countries, apart from in Uganda and India, where there were reported reductions of 1.5 and 2.6 million malaria cases, respectively, in 2018 compared with 2017.”

However, the report reflected some gains, stating that malaria deaths reduced from about 400,000 in 2010 to about 260,000 in 2018, the largest reduction being in Nigeria, from almost 153,000 deaths in 2010 to about 95,000 deaths in 2018.

1,800 Dead As Malaria ‘Epidemic’ Rages In Burundi – UN

Malaria has killed more than 1,800 people in Burundi this year, the UN’s humanitarian agency says, a death toll rivaling a deadly Ebola outbreak in neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo.

In its latest situation report, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said 5.7 million cases of malaria had been recorded in Burundi in 2019 — a figure roughly equal to half its entire population.

Of those cases, a total of 1,801 died from the mosquito-born disease in Burundi between January 1 and July 21, OCHA said.

READ ALSO: 148 Arrested In Hong Kong During Monday’s Protests – Police

The tiny country of 11 million people in the African Great Lakes region has still not declared a national emergency, despite OCHA saying the outbreak crossed “epidemic proportions” in May.

“The national malaria outbreak response plan, which is currently being validated, has highlighted a lack of human, logistical and financial resources for effective response,” OCHA said in its latest weekly bulletin on humanitarian emergencies.

“All stakeholders, including the national authorities and partners are called upon to provide the requisite resources to mount a robust response to this event before it escalates.”

A lack of preventative measures like mosquito nets, climatic changes and increased movements of people from mountain areas with low immunity to malaria were driving the crisis, OCHA said.

‘Many crises’

An OCHA official told AFP that “the decision to declare an epidemic is the sovereignty of the Burundian state”.

The country declared a malaria epidemic in March 2017, when the country had recorded 1.8 million cases and 700 deaths, but was resisting doing the same now.

A senior government official, who declined to be named, said the government did not want to admit weakness with elections set for 2020.

“We are less than a year away from the presidential election. (President Pierre) Nkurunziza, who is facing many crises, does not want to recognise what could be considered a failure of his health policy,” the official told AFP.

Burundi has been in crisis since 2015, when Nkurunziza ran for a third term and was re-elected in elections boycotted by most of the opposition.

At least 1,200 people were killed and more than 400,000 displaced in violence the UN says was mostly carried out by state security forces.

Nkurunziza announced in 2018 that he would not stand again, confounding critics who accused him of working to extend his grip on power.

UN investigators said in July that “drastic” steps were needed to boost democratic freedoms in Burundi if the government wanted the elections to be considered credible.

Burundi, one of the poorest countries in the region, abuts DR Congo, where the second-worst Ebola outbreak in history has killed more than 1,800 people amid fears the infectious fever could spread beyond its borders.

But malaria is a much bigger killer on the continent.

The World Health Organization recorded nearly 220 million cases of the parasitic illness in 2017, with an estimated 435,000 deaths. More than 90 percent of malaria cases and deaths were in Africa.

AFP

US Has Contributed $495m For Malaria Control In Nigeria Since 2011 – Symington

 

 

The United States says it has contributed $495m for malaria control in Nigeria since 2011.

This is according to a statement by the US Ambassador to Nigeria, Stuart Symington.

Symington made this disclosure in a piece, titled ‘US salutes health champions in Nigeria leading efforts to end malaria’, to commemorate the World Malaria Day.

The US envoy said, “On World Malaria Day, the United States is proud to recognize our partnership with Nigeria and support your fight to beat this deadly disease. We salute all Nigeria’s health champions—from health workers to mothers, pharmacists to drivers, journalists to researchers, teachers to warehouse managers—and all those working to end malaria.

“As a global community, we have achieved remarkable success. Together, we’ve cut malaria mortality by half in sub-Saharan Africa and saved over 7 million lives since 2000. In Nigeria, the United States has contributed $495 million for malaria control since the U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) began in 2011, distributing more than 26 million long-lasting insecticidal bed nets, 23 million malaria rapid diagnostic test kits, 52 million treatment courses, and 14 million doses of medication to prevent malaria in pregnancy. As we commemorate World Malaria Day on April 25, we celebrate this success. As the world’s leading donor in global health, the United States is committed to working with our partners to intensify efforts to end malaria for good.

READ ALSO: FG Vows To Improve Primary Health Care Delivery In Nigeria

“We know fighting malaria is a smart investment to protect health, create opportunity, and foster growth and security worldwide. And we know fighting malaria together makes us more effective and achieves greater impact than any of us could alone. Countries are best positioned to beat malaria with strong partnerships behind them. American partnership—including technical and financial commitments through the U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) as well as the U.S. contribution to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria—remains a cornerstone for continued global progress.

“Since 2011, PMI, led by the U.S. Agency for International Development and implemented together with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has partnered with Nigeria to support their fight against malaria. PMI’s transformative programs in Nigeria leverage and strengthen national leadership, resources, and systems to deliver life-saving interventions more effectively and promote enduring malaria control gains. PMI walks alongside partner countries on their journey to end malaria as an evolving, but enduring partner—promoting and building their self-reliance. PMI empowers every person, every community, and every country to fight malaria as an equal, valued, and essential partner.

“This year’s World Malaria Day theme – Zero Malaria Starts with Me – recognizes this role we all play in ending malaria. So today we call on everyone – national governments, donors, communities, families, faith leaders, the private sector, and many others – to fight this deadly disease alongside us. Together we can scale proven interventions to close coverage gaps. We can share research, best practices, and data to stay ahead. We can welcome new products, players, and processes to advance our fight.

“This World Malaria Day, we are proud to reaffirm the commitment of the United States to continuing this global progress and ending malaria in Nigeria. And I extend our hand in partnership to all of those who will join us. Zero malaria starts with me, you, and everyone working together for a more prosperous and healthy future for all”.

Indonesia’s Quake-Hit Lombok Battles With Malaria, 137 Infected

Zika, w.h.o

 

 

A malaria outbreak has infected at least 137 people in Indonesia’s West Lombok after the island was rocked by a series of earthquakes in recent months, an official said Sunday.

The quakes and aftershocks since July have killed about 500 people and forced hundreds of thousands into evacuation shelters or tents.

As a result, the number of malaria cases is twice as high as in the same period last year, prompting the West Lombok government to declare a health emergency.

Among the 137 infected are babies and pregnant women.

The government has taken steps to prevent the disease from spreading such as taking blood samples, distributing mosquito nets and fogging.

Amaq Aniyah, 65, was diagnosed with malaria after feeling unwell for a week.

His house was destroyed by a 6.9 magnitude quake in early August and since then he has been living in a tent. Paramedics have given him a mosquito net.

“Ideally we should give mosquito nets to everyone but because we only have a few, we have to be selective,” said paramedic Farlin, who like many Indonesians goes by one name.

The head of West Lombok regency, Fauzan Halid, told AFP they only have 3,000 mosquito nets but need about 10,000.

Declaration of a health emergency will allow West Lombok to seek 3.4 billion rupiah ($230,000) in aid from the provincial and central government to tackle the crisis.

Indonesia’s rainy season is expected to start next month, raising fears malaria-carrying mosquitos could breed in stagnant water.

New Fight Is Needed Against Resurgent Malaria, Says Gates

FILE COPY Microsoft founder and billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates leaves the Elysee presidential palace, after a meeting with French President on April 16, 2018 in Paris.                                         Photo Credit: Lionel Bonaventure / AFP

 

Bill Gates warned Wednesday that malaria was back on the rise again and would continue to claim more lives worldwide unless governments reinvigorated their push to eradicate the disease.

Malaria death rates have been in steady decline since 2000 but rose again in 2016 as progress towards eliminating the mosquito-borne preventable disease stalled.

Microsoft co-founder turned philanthropist Gates said innovation would be crucial to keep progress in tackling the disease ahead of its ability to develop resistance to drugs and insecticides.

“This setback where the 2016 cases went up is a real signal to us,” Gates, the second richest person in the world, told the 2018 London Malaria Summit, where experts gathered to plot the way forward.

“The funding has to be long-term and we’ve got to get smarter.

“The malaria burden really is still unacceptable.”

More than 445,000 people died from malaria in 2016, mostly children under five and pregnant women. One child dies every two minutes from the disease. There were 216 million cases in 2016 — 90 percent of which were in Africa.

Malaria is estimated to cost the African economy more than $12 billion per year and can swallow up to 40 percent of a country’s healthcare spending.

Deaths from malaria dropped by more than 60 percent between 2000 and 2015. Gates said that around seven million lives had been saved since he began investing in 1999 and several countries had been declared malaria-free.

“Progress against malaria has been one of the most impressive successes in global health in this generation,” the US philanthropist said.

However, he warned: “If we don’t keep innovating, we will go backwards. If we don’t maintain the commitments, malaria would go back up and kill over a million children a year, because the drugs and the insecticides always are evaded by the mosquitos and parasites.

“Unsurprisingly, I view data as the lifeblood of how we’re going to be smarter.”

Attendees at another health conference this week in Dakar heard how particularly African countries suffering from famine or conflict have seen a spike in malaria infections and deaths.

Experts also warned that blood transfusions are a risk factor for malaria, with a study in Nigeria finding that nearly a quarter of the blood stocks in some sub-Saharan countries contain malaria parasites.

WHO’s ‘fresh fight’ call 

The London gathering is taking place on the fringes of the biennial Commonwealth summit. Gates said 90 percent of people living in the Commonwealth were at risk of catching malaria.

Summit host Britain has called on the 53 Commonwealth nations to commit to halving malaria throughout the member states by 2023.

Such action would prevent 350 million cases and save 650,000 lives, it was claimed.

“It is an ambitious goal, but one that is firmly within our reach,” said British Prime Minister Theresa May.

“Malaria devastates lives worldwide but it has a particular impact on the Commonwealth. And we, as a Commonwealth, have a duty to tackle it.”

Stakeholders were expected to pledge more than £2.7 billion ($3.8 billion) of funding into research, data tools and malaria interventions.

World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus — who twice caught malaria and lost a brother to it — said a “fresh fight” was needed to hold the gains made in fighting the disease.

“Finance is on the decline,” the Ethiopian diplomat told summit delegates.

“We have to renew the political commitment.”

AFP

748 Healthcare Facilities Get Anti-Malaria Drugs In Kano

VVF: Kano Govt. Advocates Improved Health Care For Girl
File photo

The Kano State government has procured free anti-malaria drugs and diagnostic commodities worth over N100million for 748 hospitals and healthcare centres in the state.

This was in addition to the recently procured drugs and other consumables to be distributed across the 44 local government areas of the state.

The war against malaria, children malnourishment and other related diseases in the state is closely being coordinated by UNICEF in collaboration with the State Ministry of Health.

The state governor, Abdullahi Ganduje, who addressed a gathering at an event held over the weekend, said government remains committed to delivering quality health servicing to the people.

“In order to ensure our children are healthy, we are collaborating with UNICEF and other non-governmental organisations to provide free and ready to use therapeutic food for malnourished children in the state to include free anti-malaria drugs and other diagnostic commodities.

“We have so far approved and released over N200million to UNICEF as counterpart fund,” Governor Ganduje said.

On her part, UNICEF Chief Field Officer, Mrs Padmavathi Yadla, said they will continue to work with the state government to ensure a healthy society in Kano and Nigeria in general.

Mrs Yadla added, “You must ensure that your children get exclusive breastfeeding as one of the most important ways to prevent malnourishment among our children.

“Therefore, I assured you that UNICEF will continue to support you in the very best ways we can”.

According to reports, Kano has been on the top list of states with reported high incidences of malaria outbreak as UNICEF and other community healthcare mobilisers work closely with the state government to bring the situation under control.

The state government hinted that over 3000 women have been engaged as volunteers to resolve non-compliance to oral polio vaccine which was achieved in collaboration with UNICEF Field Office, in addition to upgrading healthcare centres in the state.

Child Killed By Malaria In Italy Caught Disease In Hospital

Malaria

A four-year-old girl who died of malaria in Italy in September caught the deadly disease in hospital, the health ministry said on Saturday, ruling out the possibility she was bitten by an infected mosquito.

Sofia Zago, who had not travelled to any at-risk countries, fell ill after a stay in a hospital in the northern city of Trento that was treating a family that had contracted malaria during a trip to Burkina Faso.

“We can categorically rule out the malaria having been caught outside the hospital,” Health Minister Beatrice Lorenzin said on the sidelines of a G7 health summit in Milan.

The Santa Chiara hospital insisted it only uses disposable, single-use needles, leading experts to wonder whether the child could have contracted the disease via a mosquito bite on the Italian coast where she holidayed.

Malaria was rife in Italy in the 19th century but eradicated by 1962, and the idea it may be reappearing — and in the colder parts of the country no less — had spooked Italians.

Tests results now show, however, that both the family and Sofia were affected by the same strain, meaning the disease was likely passed from the family to the child by human error — such as a reused needle.

“This seems a comfort, because it means we don’t have malaria-carrying mosquitoes,” Lorenzin said in a reference to some types of the insect, called anopheline, that are able to transmit the disease from person to person.

While there are cases of mosquitoes from malaria-endemic countries making it to Europe alive in the body of an aircraft, or items of luggage, investigators ruled out the possibility one made it into the hospital along with the family.

With global climate change, the potential for the reappearance of malaria in countries where it was previously eradicated exists, but is relatively small.

According to the World Health Organization, there were 212 million cases of malaria worldwide in 2015, and 429,000 deaths. Ninety percent of malaria cases and deaths occur in Africa, with children under five most at risk.

AFP