Written by By Agnieszka Jezierska, CNN
A decade ago, experts predicted that emergency immunization programs would “fail to match the growing threat of malaria” in sub-Saharan Africa. It was a miscalculation that has been proven so far correct, with only half of children in Africa receiving the vaccine against the disease, according to a new study.
Using data from 2011 to 2016, researchers found that only 57% of children had received a series of three vaccinations against malaria. Had they tracked the exact same data, the researchers estimate, 82% of children in Africa would have received a vaccine against the disease.
The vaccine, which targets insecticide-treated mosquito bites, was first introduced in Africa in 2005, and is given to children between the ages of 2 and 15 months. The study found a significant drop in the numbers of children being vaccinated between 2006 and 2013, peaking in 2012.
“Parents have been reluctant to bring up concerns with physicians, and doctors, health systems, and donor countries have not yet moved to reduce barriers to immunization,” says Dr. Deuben Lowe, a senior global health researcher at Imperial College London and lead author of the study.
“Governments and donor countries must act urgently to further protect children from this deadliest infectious disease and get the strongest possible response from the community.”