File photo. Photograph:( Reuters )
The trial followed 6,000 children aged under 17 months in Burkina Faso and Mali. It was concluded that most of the 400,000 deaths from malaria each year are in the under-fives
A new study has revealed that a new approach to protecting young African children from malaria could reduce deaths and illness from the disease by 70 per cent.
Giving them vaccines before the worst season in addition to preventative drugs produced "very striking" results, researchers say.
The trial followed 6,000 children aged under 17 months in Burkina Faso and Mali. It was concluded that most of the 400,000 deaths from malaria each year are in the under-fives.
Also, the disease is still a major health issue in many parts of sub-Saharan Africa.
The trial focused on giving very young children a vaccine already in use and anti-malarial drugs at the time of year they are most vulnerable.
Prof Brian Greenwood, a member of the research team, from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), which led the trial, was quoted by the BBC as saying, "It worked better than we thought would be the case".
"Hospital admissions were less, deaths were less in both countries - and we really didn't expect to see that."
Over the period of three years, the trial found three doses of the vaccine and drugs before the worst malaria season.
This was followed by a booster dose before subsequent rainy seasons, controlled infections much better than vaccines or drugs alone - and, the researchers said, could save millions of young lives in the African Sahel.
As per scientists, the combined effects of the vaccine and drugs in the trial appear to be surprisingly powerful.