Malaria is a preventable disease that afflicts hundreds of millions of people causing among them untoward socio-economic suffering including a vicious cycle of abject poverty, brain damage, other irreversible disabilities, and over one million deaths per year. Notwithstanding this leading disease burden, malaria has yet to get the status it deserves on the political and other relevant agenda of endemic communities and development partners.
For centuries, malaria has adversely affected the history of sub-Saharan Africa; its control during the past century however concentrated on urban areas where colonial authorities and traders lived and in agricultural estates and mines whose products sustained industries in the colonizing countries.
When the global malaria eradication program was showing signs of success, which coincided with the wave of national independence, the eradication program was abandoned in Africa on the pretext of mainly administrative and financial constraints. However, the strategies were continued elsewhere. As a consequence, the malaria situation in Africa worsened; now Africa bears the brunt of the world malaria burden estimated at 500 million malaria cases and up to 3 million malaria deaths per annum, and costing an estimated US$ 12 billion annually.
Continued failure of current strategies (prompt diagnosis, early correct treatment, and the use of insecticide treated nets (ITNs) calls for a need to develop entirely new tools that would contribute to the fight of a resilient enemy and reverse its devastation. Over the last three decades there has been considerable interest in research and development of malaria vaccines. Research results that have been obtained so far show that malaria vaccine candidates would differ not only in their biological properties, but also in their eventual applications. Vaccines have been exceptionally effective against a number of diseases and have become one of the safest and most cost-effective weapons in medicine's arsenal against communicable disease. Perhaps no other intervention has had such a dramatic impact on the health and well-being of our society as the introduction of vaccines.