On 25 July Mary Creagh MP wrote an article for the Huffington Post on the new malaria vaccine.
Friday’s announcement that a new vaccine to protect children from malaria has been approved by the European Medicines Agency offers hope to millions of people around the world.
Every year more than 660,000 people die from malaria – the majority are children under five. Malaria kills 1,300 children every day in Sub-Saharan Africa. Almost one child every minute. This morning, I read the heart-wrenching story of one of the doctors credited with the vaccine breakthrough, whose own childhood was marred by the spectre of malaria and who, as a young adult, saw the impact malaria has on children and their families.
The burden of malarial deaths disproportionately affects countries in receipt of UK aid – Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania and Nigeria. But it also affects economic productivity, foreign investment, tourism and trade and puts a huge burden on those countries’ fragile health systems.
By developing this vaccine, the global community has substantially increased its potential to save millions of lives around the world and improve the economies of many of the world’s least developed countries.
I am proud of the role British scientists, businesses and partners have played in the development of this vaccine – the world’s first malaria vaccine – and in the global fight against malaria which the UK Government and British public have backed.
The last Labour Government made tackling malaria and other infectious diseases a priority, increasing funding for malaria treatment and the development of a vaccine to £5million per year by 2010. In 2008, Gordon Brown played a leading role in establishing the multi-stakeholder Global Malaria Action Plan. As a result global deaths from malaria decreased by more than 26%, saving the lives of over 1.1million children in Africa alone.
This is UK aid at its best – innovating, working in partnership and making the difference between life and death for millions around the world. Friday’s extraordinary announcement and the huge scientific advance it represents shows how the UK can use its aid budget to tackle some of the world’s most infectious and debilitating diseases.
The World Health Organisation is expected to approve the vaccine by the end of the year. African health ministers recognise the massive potential of this vaccine and are already calling for its roll- out. The UK must remain an advocate for and supporter of the innovation, investment and partnership required to ensure that the poorest, no matter where they live, have access this vaccine which will enable their communities to flourish.