SUB-SAHARAN Africans have every cause to heave a sigh of relief from malaria which has been responsible for the alarming under live mortality rate with the discovery of a malaria vaccine which provides 100 per cent protection against the disease. A research finding published in the Journal Science, the malaria vaccine has become the first to provide 100 per teat protection against the disease, con founding critics and far surpassing any other experimental malaria vaccine tested.
The researchers said the vaccine, which is being developed in the United States (U.S.), protected 12 out of 15 patients from the disease, when given in high doses; and will now be tested further in clinical trials in Africa
WE are enthused with the progress made towards the development of effective malaria vaccine which we consider a welcome development especially to Nigeria because of the high malaria burden on our citizens, particularly pregnant women and children.
WE are equally glad with further explanations from the World Health Organisation and other experts who say there are about 20 other vaccine projects for malaria prevention at various stages of clinical trials globally and that the leading vaccine candidate in the group, RTS, S is currently undergoing the phase III  trial and is likely to come into use by 2015 if all goes well as expected. The vaccine, according to the global body is being developed by Glaxo SmithKline Biologicals and PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative (MYL) with funding sup port from Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
WE applaud the donor community for their relentless efforts in trying to combat major diseases plaguing mankind, particularly those prevalent in sub-Saharan Africa such as malaria, HIV/AIDS and others. We appeal that once the malaria vaccine comes into full use, the donor community, Non Governmental Organisations and other development partners should help fund the mass production, so that it could be added to the vaccines ad ministered to new born babies during the early years in life with an aim of ending the daily loss of lives to malaria.
THIS laudable feat notwithstanding, we must also sound a note of caution. Nigeria as a nation which will benefit from the new research finding must be careful because this is just a research that is inconclusive and from every indications, is yet to be commercialized.
IT is also very important to note that when a vaccine does become available it would only complement the tools already been deployed to fight malaria, and not necessarily replace them. This is more so when results of on-going trials have not indicated full protection against malaria.
FOR every disease condition, experts have always suggested that prevention is better than cure. That is why the new vaccine leads the pathway to roll back malaria; other traditional preventive measures should be stepped up. We must continue to do what we should do to keep malaria at bay like keeping the environment clean without stagnant water, sleeping under insecticide treated nets, among others.
ALSO, people should continue to use Long Lasting Insecticidal Nets (LLIN5); pregnant women must continue to demand for Intermittent Preventive Treatment in Pregnancy (IPTp) at antenatal visits; and every one with suspected malaria must get tested and treated with Artemisinin-based Combination Therapy (ACT) if found positive for malaria. THE media and Civil Society Organisations as well as government agencies should increase public enlightenment campaign against malaria, with emphasis on preventive measures, while taking early steps to treat sufferers.
GOVERNMENIT at all levels should equally enhance the annual budgetary allocations to the health sector with a view to dealing death kneel on child killer diseases. Primary health care institutions need to be equipped with the required manpower and facilities to fight malaria head on.
UNDOUBTEDLY, keeping our environment clean is the task of all citizens, but there is need for the enforcement of existing environmental laws and bye-laws to compel citizens who always wait for the push to com ply, this is because we strongly believe that only a holistic approach will see to the successful campaign to roll back malaria from our communities.