Defeating Malaria - Vaccine breakthrough

A long-awaited breakthrough in the fight against malaria finally became a reality when on 6th October 2021, the World Health Organisation (WHO) unveiled and recommended a new vaccine, RTS,S/AS01 that has captured the attention of child-health professionals and parents alike. The new vaccine seems to be the missing part of a jigsaw in the fight against malaria that cause the deaths of over a quarter of a million at-risk children between 0-5 every year, especially in sub-Sahara Africa and elsewhere.

We at Children of Potentials are extremely happy for the turn of event. Over the years, we have held the view and have witnessed the negative impact that malaria has had on the health and education of young children. Malaria diseases have seen school attendance affected for many children in the communities we operate. It is our hope that the development and rollout of the new vaccine – in combination with other similar interventions – will go a long way in achieving our objective of improving educational and health outcomes for children and young people.

We say kudus to all the collaborators involved, especially piloting/research countries of Ghana, Kenya and Malawi, as well as the technical and financial support of others.

Partnership for progress


Today, we celebrate the partnership-working arrangement between Children of Potentials International and Centre for Children’s Affairs Malawi (CEAF). This forms part of the two organisations’ desire to reach and support disadvantage children everywhere to grow into a confident and independent adulthood.

Signing off the memorandum of understanding for his organisation, the National Coordinator of Centre for Children’s Affairs Malawi (CEAF), Moses Delvin Busher said, “We are doing this to protect and empower the next generation of children. We are playing our part to ensure that our common vision for children is realised before our generation expires”.

Already, collaborative programmes have been identified, including abuse of albinism and child marriages in Malawi.

Ghana Update: Over half of pupils can’t read

A recent research conducted across the country in various schools particularly at the lower primary levels indicates that about 51 percent of the pupils cannot read in both English language and the other local dialects. Only two percent of the research respondents can, however, read to understand and answer questions from passages in textbooks.

The Ashanti Regional Director of Education, Mary Owusu Achiaw made this known at a durbar at Sanso in the Obuasi Municipality of the Ashanti Region. She highlighted some factors identified by the Ghana Education Service through its periodic monitoring to be accounting for the poor reading habits of pupils. These include the non-motivating attitude of teachers towards reading as well as the limited reading periods on timetables of schools.

Another factor observed with worry by the Regional Director of Education is the hoarding of reading books donated by international donor agencies such as the UK Department for International Department, by the authorities of some schools.
This, she noted, had caused such agencies and organizations to withdraw support in this direction. Mrs. Owusu Achiaw, therefore, admonished authorities of schools exhibiting such behavior to put an immediate stop to it. She again emphasized the need for teachers to adopt new techniques to motivate students to read especially at the primary level.

A retired educationist, Mrs. Sophia Awortwe noted that through continuous reading, pupils would become knowledgeable on a wide range of relevant issues to manage for instance the environment, which according to her is gradually losing its richness due to illegal human activities and the effects of climate change. She, therefore, advised parents and guardians to encourage their wards to read books regularly when at home instead of allowing them to watch television programs which have no good moral values.


January 2016 Source: GBC

Under-five malaria fatality rate drops in Ghana

The rate of fatality of malaria cases among Ghanaian children under-five years of age has dropped from 14.4 per cent in 2000 to 0.6 per cent in 2012.

This means that, for every 1,000 children under-five admitted to hospital with malaria, 850 survived in 2000 while in 2012, the number of those who survived was 994.

Dr. Felicia Amoo-Sakyi, Malaria Case Management Programme Officer for the National Malaria Control Programme (NMCP) disclosed this at a press briefing ahead of the National World Malaria Day celebration scheduled to take place in Wa on Friday.

A new malaria control intervention known as the Seasonal Malaria Chemoprevention (SMC) would be launched by the Ministry of Health (MoH)/Ghana Health Service (GHS) as part of the celebration of the day.

The SMC, formerly known as Intermittent Preventive Treatment, involves intermittent administration of full treatment courses of an anti-malaria medicine during the malaria season to prevent malaria illness.

Targeted at the Upper West, Upper East and Northern Regions, the SMC’s objective is to provide protection against clinical illness throughout the period of malaria risk.

Dr. Amoo-Sakyi said issues considered in deciding to adopt the SMC intervention include the seasonality of malaria transmission and rainfall patterns, the incidence of malaria and the potential delivery mechanisms among others.

She said the target areas for implementation were areas where transmission was more than 60 per cent of clinical malaria cases occurring during a short period of about four months.

She said the clinical attack rate of malaria was greater than 0.1 per cent attack per transmission season in the target age group.

Dr. Amoo-Sakyi noted that the intervention covered children between the ages of 3-59 months and that, during the campaign, there shall be free distribution of Long Lasting Insecticide Treated Nets (LLITNs) at primary schools and health centers among others.

She said there would also be a scaling up of parasite-based diagnosis to all age groups at all levels countrywide, using the Test, Treat and Track initiative (the T3 Formula).

Dr. Amoo-Sakyi said defeating malaria requires the engagement of a number of sectors outside health, including finance, education, defense, environment, mining industry, tourism, local government and the media.

Source: GNA

Students join the fight against malaria

Students of the Ghana Institute of Journalism (GIJ) have joined forces with the African Media and Malaria Research Network (AMMREN) to eliminate malaria in Ghana.

The move is to widen the platform for advocacy communication towards the elimination of the disease.

A seven-member student executive to steer the affairs of the AMMREN -GIJ chapter has, therefore, been sworn in to serve as agents of change in the malaria elimination efforts.


Speaking at the inauguration of the executive in Accra, a Programme Officer of the National Malaria Control Programme (NMCP), Ms Vivian Aubyn, said in spite of the gains made in the efforts to eliminate malaria from Ghana, illnesses due to malaria were still high.

According to her, rural, hard to reach areas, residents of urban poor communities and people in the northern sector of the country are the most affected.

She said the NMCP had collaborated with stakeholders to draft a new strategic plan, starting from 2014 to 2018, that would focus on accelerated control and concentrate efforts in the high transmission areas in the Upper West, Upper East and Northern regions.

Net distribution

So far, Ms Aubyn said bed nets distribution in antenatal clinics and schools (targeting pregnant women and children less than five years) had increased coverage and helped in preventing malaria.

“I must say that the distribution of nets in schools started in July last year and has been embraced by teachers, communities and schoolchildren to the extent that the NMCP office has been inundated with telephone calls,” she said.

She pointed out that the era when every fever case was treated as malaria was over and that the new policy was to diagnose all suspected cases under the test, treat and track strategy.

“This requires all suspected fever cases to be tested and only cases with positive malaria test results treated with anti-malaria drugs,” he said.

Behavioural in School change

A researcher at the Dodowa Health Research Centre, Dr Alberta Amu, advocated the accelerated distribution of insecticide treated nets to all age groups to achieve universal access.

She also said there was the need for behavioural change communication strategies which would educate individuals on the need to sleep in treated nets to prevent malaria.

“Malaria elimination in Ghana is feasible and doable. It would require team effort and long-term consistent commitment from all stakeholders,” Dr Amu said.


The Executive Secretary of AMMREN, Mrs Charity Binka, stated that malaria was a major public health problem in Ghana and a development issue.

She said the AMMREN-GIJ chapter sought to attract young journalists to advocate the post-2015 Millennium Development Goal agenda of eradicating malaria.

The Rector of GIJ, Mr David Newton, said the institute had designed a new course in health communication, which is awaiting approval from the National Accreditation Board (NAB), to increase health reporting and communication.

68% of primary 6 pupils can’t read

A survey conducted by World Vision Ghana has revealed that only 32 percent of children who have completed primary six in the West Gonja District are able to read and write with comprehension.

This abysmal performance falls below the national average of 35.3 percent that government and other development partners are collaborating to turn around.

This follows an earlier survey by the Ghana Education Service (GES) which showed that 98 percent of primary two pupils in various schools in the country can neither read nor understand English or any Ghanaian language properly.

World Vision Ghana’s Programme Manager in charge of West Gonja District, Paul Azeka Asia said his outfit used the Functional Literacy Tool (FLAT) to assess the performance of class six pupils who gained admission into Junior High School one.

Source:  23 September 2014

World Malaria Day, 25 April

World Malaria Day, marked each year on 25 April, is an occasion to highlight the need for continued investment and sustained political commitment for malaria prevention and control. This organisation joins well-meaning individuals and stakeholder to mark this day. 

Goal: energize commitment to fight malaria

World Malaria Day was instituted by WHO Member States during the World Health Assembly of 2007. It is an occasion to highlight the need for continued investment and sustained political commitment for malaria prevention and control. It is also an opportunity:

  • for countries in affected regions to learn from each other’s experiences and support each other’s efforts;
  • for new donors to join a global partnership against malaria;
  • for research and academic institutions to flag scientific advances to both experts and the general public; and
  • for international partners, companies and foundations to showcase their efforts and reflect on how to further scale up interventions.
    Source: WHO
Invest in the future. Defeat malaria

In 2014, it was estimated that global efforts to control and eliminate malaria saved an estimated 3.3 million lives since 2000, reducing malaria mortality rates by 42% globally and 49% in Africa. Increased political commitment and expanded funding have helped to reduce malaria incidence by 25% globally, and 31% in Africa.
The 2014 World Malaria Day coincided with the 70th anniversary of WHO. The Day was marked with a series of interviews with leaders and advocates in the global malaria response, as they reflected on key moments in fighting this disease over the decades.

But we are not there yet. Malaria still kills an estimated 627 000 people every year, mainly children under 5 years of age in sub-Saharan Africa. In 2013, 97 countries had on-going malaria transmission.

Every year, more than 200 million cases occur; most of these cases are never tested or registered. Emerging drug and insecticide resistance threaten to reverse recent gains.

If the world is to maintain and accelerate progress against malaria, post Millennium Development Goal (MDG -6), and to sustain the gains of MDGs 4 and 5, more funds are urgently required.

Malaria Day Themes
The theme for 2020 and 2021: Reaching the zero malaria target
The theme for 2019 and 2020: Zero malaria starts with me
The theme for 2018 and 2019: Zero malaria starts with me
The theme for 2017 and 2018: Ready to beat malaria
The theme for 2016 and 2017: Malaria prevention works – Let’s close the gap
The theme for 2015 and 2016: End Malaria for good
The theme for 2014 and 2015: Invest in the future. Defeat malaria
Recent World Malaria Days

Credit WHO
A community health worker conducts a malaria rapid diagnostic test for a child, Democratic Republic of the Congo

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Mosquitoes becoming immune to repellent

A study by researchers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine shows that one of the most commonly used insect repellents worldwide,commonly known as DEET, seems to be losing its potency against mosquitoes.

Mosquito Repellent -spray

Losing the war on mosquitoes?

Although DEET has been shown to be extremely effective, recent studies have revealed that certain individual insects are unaffected by its presence.

The study published in Journal of Plos One, a US publication, recently made available to the public, said a genetic basis for this has been shown in Aedes aegypti mosquitoes.

Researchers examined host-seeking behaviour and electrophysiological responses of A. aegypti after pre-exposure to DEET.

The study said the change in behaviour as a result of pre-exposure to DEET has implications for the use of repellents and the ability of mosquitoes to overcome them.

However, despite its common use over the last 60 years, and evidence that it could repel 100 per cent of mosquitoes in the laboratory, semi-field and field tests, there are several studies suggesting that certain individual insects are not repelled by DEET.

The study said repeated exposure of mosquitoes to a repellent was likely to occur in situations where more than one host may be treated with a repellent, and mosquitoes feed multiple times during their lifespan.

In order to investigate the effect of pre-exposure to DEET on a. aegypti, the study repeatedly exposed female mosquitoes to DEET and determined their subsequent behavioural and/or the electrophysiological responses.

Four separate experiments were performed to determine whether pre-exposure to DEET affected the behavioural and/or olfactory responses of mosquitoes to DEET when applied to a human arm, or when applied to an artificial heat source (to remove the effects of human volatiles).

The research examined whether female a. aegypti mosquitoes would change their behaviour when tested twice with a DEET treatment on a human arm.

It said mosquito responses were determined using an arm-on-cage repellency assay, during which mosquitoes, which attempted to probe despite the presence of DEET were considered insensitive.

The research said mosquitoes probing in response to DEET on an arm when first exposed were removed from the experiment, thus, mosquitoes probing on second exposure to DEET were all initially sensitive to DEET and had altered their behaviour.

It found that previously, DEET-sensitive females, which were exposed again to an arm treated with DEET, landed and probed significantly more on the second DEET exposure than mosquitoes tested for the first time with DEET, or tested with DEET following exposure to a control arm.

The study noted, however, that the proportion of mosquitoes probing on second exposure to DEET was still lower than the response to the untreated arm.

It said mosquitoes did not change their behaviour to the untreated control arm if pre-exposed to it.

The researchers sought to understand how repellents work and how mosquitoes detect them, hence they could better work out ways to get around the problem when they do become resistant to repellents.

Ghana -one million children out of school

growing number of children out of school

A growing number of children out of school

Challenging Heights, a child rights advocacy organisation in Ghana, is warning of a “very bleak” future for about one million Ghanaian children who are out of school.

According to Challenging Heights, the children, aged between five and 15, could be found across the country selling on the streets or engaging in some sort of child labour at times when they should be in school.

Speaking to The Mirror in Accra, the President of the organisation, Mr James Kofi Annan, described the development as “worrisome”, saying, “We are wasting the future of these children.”

Mr Annan said the presence of children on the streets at times when they should be in school contravened Act 560 of the Children’s Act of 1998 which mandates parents – whether single or married – to educate their children.

“There is no excuse for any parent to refuse to educate his or her children because the 1992 Constitution makes it compulsory for all children to access at least basic education,” he added.

He called for urgent and decisive action to get the children off the streets and enrol them in schools, a move which he said was critical to safeguarding their future.

He said many of the children would resort to crime and engage in activities detrimental to the national interest if concrete measures were not taken to educate them.

He stressed the need to sensitise and build the capacity of parents to enable them to educate their children and ensure social protection for them.

Mr Annan called on government agencies to begin enforcing the right of children to education by arresting and prosecuting parents who refused to send their children to school.

He also emphasised the need to improve educational infrastructure across the country, so that more children could be accommodated.

Commenting on the concerns expressed by Challenging Heights, the Director of Public Affairs at the Ministry of Education, Mr Paul Kofi Krampah, expressed regret that many children were still not attending school, in spite of the numerous social programmes put in place by the government to make basic education accessible and affordable.

He said the government had played its part by providing free education, free books, free school uniforms and free food at the basic level in order to make basic education affordable to even deprived Ghanaians.

Mr Krampah said the removal of 40 per cent of ‘schools under trees’ and the abolition of the shift system were all efforts aimed at making basic education more accessible to children.

He said parents whose children were not in school lacked an understanding of the importance of education and called on the relevant agencies to educate such parents in that regard.

Mr Krampah said one effective way of getting children off the streets would be for metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies (MMDAs) to enact bye-laws that would compel parents to educate their children of school age.

That, he said, would enable the assemblies to keep track of children in their jurisdictions and ensure that they went to school.

The Department of Social Welfare (DSW), which is mandated to enforce the right of children to education, as guaranteed in the Children’s Act of 1998, said it was concerned that many children were not attending school.

The Director of the DSW, Mr Stephen T. Adongo, said his outfit had not been able to enforce children’s right to education because of the lack of resources.

“We have the mandate, but the resources and structures must be in place,” he said.

He said the DSW needed resources to educate parents, children and communities on the benefits of acquiring education.

He said shelters were also needed to temporarily house children who had been picked up from the streets.

Mr Adongo called on the government to provide the resources needed by the DSW to implement those projects, saying, “There is no future on the streets.”

“There should be commitment to this cause. We should recognise the importance of social development and make social protection a priority in this country,” he added.

He also called for an improvement in the quality of education in the country, a move which he said would make going to school more appealing to parents and children.

Mr Adongo said efforts must also be made to create more jobs, as the high unemployment rate in the country was a disincentive to many children who would like to go to school.


Presentation Ceremony

March 2012
Recent Donation A donation of assorted books, pens & pencils, school uniforms and sports  equipment have been made by Children of Potentials (this charity) to Adzentem Primary School in the Gomoa-East District in the Central Region of Ghana.

The donations formed part of this charity’s mission to facilitate and enrich the teaching and learning processes especially in rural communities. It is the plan of this organisation to propagate these action to as many underprivileged children as possible. We recognise the importance of education to the future prosperity of the next generation.

Oct 2011

Results at trial sites in sub-Saharan Africa suggest RTS,S reduces risk of developing deadly disease by 56 per cent.

A new vaccine against malaria will help reduce African children's risk of acquiring the disease by about half, according to the first results of an ongoing phase III trial.

The vaccine, whose trial results were made public on Tuesday, has been developed by the British pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline's lab in Belgium.

Known as RTS,S the vaccine is the first of its kind to attempt to block a parasite, rather than bacteria or viruses.

Trial results suggested the vaccine reduced the risk of developing clinical malaria by 56 per cent among children aged five to 17 months. They received three doses of the vaccine.

Malaria, spread by mosquitoes, causes high fever and chills and often results in death in sub Saharan Africa and parts of Asia with woefully inadequate medical facilities.

The trial is under way at 11 sites, including Burkina Faso, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique and Tanzania. At least 15,460 infants and young children are involved in what GSK described as "the largest malaria vaccine trial to date".

When it came to severe malaria, the stage of the illness that can be fatal and reaches the blood, brain or kidneys, those who received the vaccine showed a 47 per cent lower risk.

"This is remarkable when you consider that there has never been a successful vaccine against a human parasite," said Tsiri Agbenyega, who chairs the RTS,S Clinical Trials Partnership and heads malaria research at Komfo-Anokye Hospital in Kumasi, Ghana.

"While these results are encouraging, we still have a ways to go."

Efficacy concerns

The analysis was done with data from 6,000 children in the trial over a 12-month follow-up after vaccination.

More data is needed from the younger age group - infants aged six weeks to 12 weeks - to better assess how well it works, experts said. Additional results from the younger set are due next year.

The results are published online in the New England Journal of Medicine, and were simultaneously announced at the Malaria Forum hosted by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in Seattle, Washington.

Asked by a reporter whether the Gates Foundation would get behind a vaccine with a success rate of only about half, Regina Rabinovich, director for infectious diseases at the foundation's global health programme, was circumspect.

"This is a key question. The group will ultimately want to understand efficacy, duration and safety," she said.

She said she was "enthusiastic" about the results so far and was awaiting further data.

"Would I prefer to see a 100 per cent effective vaccine? Absolutely."

Trial to continue

The vaccine was administered to children who are in areas with other interventions against malaria, such as bed nets and spraying.

The vaccine was created in 1987 in GlaxoSmithKline Bio's lab in Belgium.

Testing began on healthy adults in Belgium and the US in 1992, before the first Africa study started in Gambia in 1998.

The vaccine works by triggering the immune system to defend itself against Plasmodium falciparum, the deadliest type of malaria parasite.

Several questions remain, including how long the vaccine may last, how well it works in small babies, and how much it will cost, said Seth Berkley, CEO of the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI Alliance).

The trial is set to continue for two more years.


Source: News agencies