Officials at Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RBC) have said they are optimistic about the recent unprecedented developments in the search for a malaria vaccine, and hope soon there will be a vaccine to complement the existing measures to fight the disease. A few days back, a vaccine candidate that was being tested in Africa demonstrated an unprecedented 77 percent efficacy, making it the first to reach the 75% efficacy target set by the World Health Organisation (WHO). This has raised hopes for a breakthrough in the fight against the parasitic disease that kills more than 400,000 people a year, most of whom children in sub-Saharan Africa. Dubbed “R21/Matrix-M,” the vaccine is being developed by the UK’s University of Oxford, the institution that is also behind the AstraZeneca vaccine for Covid-19. When tested in 450 children in Burkina Faso, the malaria vaccine was found to be safe and showed high-level efficacy over 12 months of follow-up. It will now go to the next step of trials, which will be carried out in nearly 5,000 children between the ages of five months and three years across four African countries. Speaking about the development from the trials so far, Dr. Sabin Nsanzimana the Director-General of RBC said it gives hope. “With such developments, we get hopeful that something new is going to be added to the existing efforts for fighting against malaria. When we look at how quickly the vaccines for Covid-19 have been developed, it gives hope that even one for malaria can be found within a time that is not very far,” he said. He noted that for a vaccine to be allowed to be used by people, it should at least go through 4 stages of trials to find out among other things: whether it is effective in giving protection against a particular disease, and whether it does not negatively affect the health of the users. The R21/Matrix-M vaccine is only at the second stage of trials. Meanwhile, on Sunday, April 25, Rwanda joined the rest of the world to celebrate World Malaria Day, under the theme “Zero Malaria Starts with Me,” a call to citizens and various stakeholders to take individual responsibility in the fight against the disease. Rwanda employs a number of measures for fighting against malaria including indoor residual spraying in severely affected districts, distribution of use of treated mosquito nets, sensitizing citizens about how to prevent malaria, use of drones to spray against mosquitoes in swampy areas, among others. In addition, the country employs Home Based Management of malaria in all districts for early diagnosis and treatment. This is done by Community Health Workers, and about 56% of all malaria is managed by them. Rwanda recorded a decrease in malaria cases from 4.8 million in 2017 to 1.8 million in 2020. In addition, there was a decrease in severe malaria from 18,000 in 2016 to 3,000 in 2020, while malaria-related deaths decreased from 700 in 2016 to 148 in 2020. Yvette Imanishimwe, the Vice Mayor in charge of Citizens’ Welfare in Bugesera, one of the districts with a high burden of malaria also hinted at the significance of individual responsibility from people, for instance draining stagnant water from neighborhoods to impede the breeding process of mosquitoes. A health worker carries out indoor residual spraying. Dr. Sabin Nsanzimana, the Director-General of RBC, looks at an experiment showing the difference between male and female mosquitoes.