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Cameroon made history by becoming the first country to introduce a routine vaccination program against malaria. The Central African nation is one of 20 African countries planning to roll out the groundbreaking vaccine this year, according to the global vaccine alliance Gavi.

The new vaccine, called RTS,S and sold under the brand name Mosquirix, was developed by British pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) over nearly 40 years. It targets Plasmodium falciparum, the deadliest malaria parasite and the most prevalent in Africa. Mosquirix is designed as a four-dose vaccine for young children around 5 months of age.

Mosquirix is the first-ever vaccine shown to provide partial protection against malaria in young children, who are most at risk from the deadly disease. By introducing it routinely, Cameroon hopes to prevent thousands of malaria deaths and cases annually.

Africa bears the brunt of the global malaria burden, accounting for over 90% of the world’s 200 million cases and 400,000 deaths per year. Health experts hope the rollout of Mosquirix across the continent will be a game-changer in efforts to eliminate malaria.

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