Editor’s Note: April 17, 2019
Does Africa need a malaria vaccine?
A pilot programme for the world’s first malaria vaccine will start in Malawi next week, with Kenya and Ghana to follow. Development of RTS,S, known as Mosquirix, has been led by pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline, at a cost of around $1bn.
Piloting the vaccine in Africa makes sense. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) the continent accounted for 92% of malaria cases and 93% of deaths caused by the disease in 2017.
With such numbers the need for a vaccine looks self-evident, but it’s easy to forget that eliminating malaria is primarily a policy issue.
Since its discovery in 1897 the disease has shrunk from being prevalent across the globe to its current concentration in sub-Saharan Africa.
In 2017 just 5 countries – Nigeria, DRC, Uganda, Zambia and India – accounted for almost half of all infections. Nigeria alone accounted for 25%.
By contrast southern Africa has made considerable progress. In India, malaria cases dropped 24% in 2017 due to stronger political commitment, better leadership and more funding, according to the WHO.
Focusing on better policies in the countries most affected could be more effective than waiting for a vaccine.
Especially as Mosquirix has a success rate of around 40%. It will be years, and many more dollars, before a truly effective vaccine comes to market.
From The Continent
Zimbabwe has reportedly almost doubled the price of bread, the latest spike in prices for basic goods as the country tackles its worst economic crisis in a decade. Year on year inflation hit 66.8% in March. More: Reuters
The African Union has given Sudan’s military a 15-day ultimatum to hand over power to civilian rule or face suspension from the organization, following its ousting of longtime president Omar al-Bashir last week. His removal has failed to quell unprecedented mass protests calling for a swift transition to a civilian government. More: CNN
The Daily Stat
The percentage by which Ghana has reduced its cocoa harvest estimate for 2019 - from 900,000t - 850,000t - due to plant disease in its biggest growing region. More: Bloomberg
The Global Perspective
Deutsche Bank is reportedly planning to lend Angola €1bn to help fund private-sector development projects. This comes amid efforts by Luanda to clean up and reform its notoriously opaque banking sector. More: Macau Business
The World Bank has announced plans to invest $15bn to support human capital development across Africa between 2021-2023, double the current level. This is aimed at , among other things, improving healthcare and education outcomes. More: Independent Online