Despite years of study into disease control and prevention, President Museveni has expressed worry over the lack of a malaria vaccine.
Museveni said he had launched a full war against plasmodium falciparum, the parasite that causes malaria, but wondered why it has been impossible to develop a vaccine whereas pathogens like as the SARS COV-2 virus, which only emerged recently, had been able to eradicate the disease.
Museveni stated that Ugandan scientists had been looking for a chemical called beta-Propiolactone from elsewhere in order to develop a vaccine, only to discover that the chemical can be obtained from locally available materials, demonstrating the need for African countries to collaborate in research if science is to succeed.
He said that while scientists have developed treatments throughout the years, the problem is that the disease quickly outsmarts them.
Just before Museveni spoke, Dr Moeti Matshidiso, the World Health Organization’s Regional Director for Africa, told scientists that researchers are looking into the possibility of developing a malaria vaccine using Messenger RNA technology, which is the same technology that was used to develop the Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines.
She said the trials would begin next year, but that the RTS,S malaria vaccine, which was the first in the world to demonstrate some efficacy at 40%, is currently only being used in pilot programs in Kenya and Malawi, among other places.
Noting that the RTS,S vaccine can provide 30 percent protection to children in endemic countries who are severely affected, Moeti claims that countries like Uganda, which have taken a multi-pronged approach to malaria elimination without a vaccine, including involving private sector players, are making progress.
Meanwhile, former Vice President Dr. Specioza Wandira Kazibwe, a trained medical epidemiologist, claims that countries are missing the true picture of how malaria is ravaging them, citing malaria-related deaths as an example, where new mothers who become anemic due to malaria are recorded among maternal deaths when they die. She claims that the same thing happens to youngsters who die of malaria but are never found.
According to her, in order for African countries to eliminate malaria, they must use reliable data and include communities more in the implementation of preventative initiatives.