Media CenterCRS Welcomes Innovative Malaria Vaccine for At-Risk Children

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Brittany Wichtendahl
Catholic Relief Services
[email protected]
(757) 748-5003

Calls for focus on developing strong financing, distribution plans

BALTIMORE, MARYLAND, Oct. 8, 2021 – Catholic Relief Services (CRS) welcomes the World Health Organization (WHO) recommendation for widespread use of the RTS,S malaria vaccine for children in high transmission regions. The recommendation comes based on results from an ongoing pilot program in Ghana, Kenya and Malawi.

“This is a historic moment in the fight against malaria,” said Suzanne Van Hulle, CRS’ global malaria advisor. “The RTS,S vaccine represents decades of hard work and the potential to save the lives of thousands of children in sub-Saharan Africa.”

Malaria remains a primary cause of illness and death in children throughout sub-Saharan Africa. Annually, more than 260,000 African children under the age of five die from malaria. In the pilot program, the RTS,S vaccine was shown to reduce deadly severe malaria in children by 30%, even in areas where bed nets and treatments are readily available.

“While the vaccine is exciting and gives us hope to combat this complex disease, we cannot become complacent and think this is the one and only solution,” Van Hulle said. “It must be brought in as a new component in the fight, while still strongly supporting the use of bed nets and other interventions such as seasonal malaria chemoprevention.”

National governments in Africa will be determining how to utilize the RTS,S vaccine in their malaria control strategies, and CRS will continue to support their efforts to eliminate the disease and save lives.

“Now is the time to start figuring out the details of how to get the vaccine into the arms of the children who need it,” Van Hulle said. “As with any widespread rollout, there is the potential for barriers, such as shortages or struggles within the supply chain. If we start thinking about those issues and coming up with solutions now, we can ensure equitable access to the vaccine.”

CRS has been working with The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria since 2013 and earlier this year committed $3 million to the fight against malaria in Niger. This funding allows the Global Fund to continue distribution of the preventative medication known as seasonal malaria chemoprevention (SMC). CRS operates malaria programs in 12 countries, which focus on prevention, diagnosis and treatment and community education. Through these programs, CRS has distributed more than 145 million treated bed nets to communities in high transmission countries.


Catholic Relief Services is the official international humanitarian agency of the Catholic community in the United States. The agency alleviates suffering and provides assistance to people in need in more than 100 countries, without regard to race, religion or nationality. CRS’ relief and development work is accomplished through programs of emergency response, HIV, health, agriculture, education, microfinance and peacebuilding. For more information, visit or and follow Catholic Relief Services on social media in English at Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube; and in Spanish at: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


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Public Relations Strategist

Brittany Wichtendahl
October 8, 2021

Brittany Wichtendahl is a public relations strategist for Catholic Relief Services, out of Baltimore. Drafting press releases for secular and Catholic news media, Brittany also crafts pitches to help publicize CRS's work. She writes op-eds for placement in national print publications, and monitors news outlets for stories related to CRS and CRS programming.

Brittany is a graduate of...More