April 25, 2023
3:00 pm GMT+0200 - 4:00 pm GMT+0200
Join the HJN and Management Sciences for Health for a Twitter Spaces event in honour of World Malaria Day!
Set a reminder HERE!
In recognition of World Malaria Day 2023, the Internews Health Journalism Network (HJN) in collaboration with Management Sciences for Health (MSH), will offer a one-hour long Twitter Spaces audio event that seeks to unpack and discuss three priority areas: the role journalists have in malaria prevention and awareness at a community level, how journalists can better work alongside scientists and researchers to prioritise malaria as a newsworthy health issue in impacted communities, and lastly, how journalists can help to inspire confidence and increase uptake of the malaria RTS,S vaccine amongst young children in high-risk communities.
This year the WHO has marked the theme of World Malaria Day as, “Time to deliver zero malaria: invest, innovate, implement.” Journalists have a critical role to play in countries where malaria carries a high disease burden by informing communities about tools that are currently available to help prevent the disease, including the RTS,S vaccine. This vaccine is the only WHO recommended malaria vaccine for widespread use among children under the age of 5.
Despite considerable progress with the scale up of insecticide treated nets (ITNs), deployment of chemoprevention approaches, and the adoption of highly effective treatment since 2000, malaria remains a primary cause of childhood illness and death in sub-Saharan Africa – and the situation is worsening. According to WHO’s latest data (World Malaria Report 2021) there were marked increases in malaria cases and deaths in 2020.
About 479 000 African children under the age of 5 died of malaria in 2020 – representing about 80% of malaria deaths in the African region. Globally, approximately 95% of cases and 96% of deaths were in sub-Saharan Africa.
The WHO recommendation for wider use of the RTS,S malaria vaccine comes at a time when WHO and partners have called for new tools, including malaria vaccines, to help get malaria control efforts back on track. The addition of the RTS,S malaria vaccine to currently recommended malaria control interventions could save tens of thousands of lives annually and drive down child mortality in Africa.
While in some communities, particularly in countries where the vaccine was piloted (Ghana, Kenya and Malawi), demand for the vaccine is high, journalists can play an important role in increasing community demand and further reducing the under-5 mortality rate for malaria.
Dr. Olugbenga Mokuolu, MSH, Malaria Expert
Allan Were, MSH, Vector-Borne Disease Expert
Gideon Sarkodie Osei, Journalist, HJN member, Ghana
Babatunde Okunlola, Journalist, HJN member, Nigeria, Moderator