SOA (Cameroon): Cameroon on Monday launched the first malaria vaccination programme to be offered nationwide and as a matter of routine, AFP journalists saw, in a step the WHO has described as “historic”.

The mosquito-borne disease kills more than 600,000 people a year, mainly in Africa, according to the World Health Organization.

Children under five years old account for more than 80 percent of deaths on the continent.

Following a pilot phase, the RTS,S vaccine is being rolled out at scale across Africa, starting in Cameroon.

At a hospital in the town of Soa, 20 kilometres (12 miles) from the capital Yaounde, six-month-old Noah Ngah became the first to receive the injection at the facility.

Cheered and encouraged by the nurses, the infant received the jab — much to the relief of his mother, who was waiting to have his twin sister vaccinated too.

“Some parents are reticent but I know that vaccines are good for children,” their mother Helene Akono told AFP.

It is one of many vaccine centres in 42 districts designated a priority across the vast central African nation of some 28 million people.

The jab will be offered free of charge, according to the government, and systematically to all children under six months old at the same time as other obligatory or recommended vaccinations.

The WHO, the UN children’s agency UNICEF and the Gavi vaccine alliance said in November that the move was “a historic step towards broader vaccination against one of the deadliest diseases for African children”.


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