Health experts and researchers met in the Kenyan capital Tuesday to explore ways of eradicating malaria, the world's deadliest infectious disease that kills around 900,000 people every year.
Key among the strategies for the fifth Multilateral Initiative on Malaria is the development of an effective anti-malaria vaccine, a project scientists have been researching since the late 80s.
The experts were to launch later Tuesday a status report on the Phase 3 trials of the vaccine known as RTS,S targeted to be at least 50 percent effective against the severe form of malaria and to last up to one year.
The RTS,S is the most clinically advanced malaria vaccine so far, according to the Malaria Vaccine Initiative (MVI).
Results of Phase 2 trials, which were announced last year, showed 53 percent efficacy against clinical malaria in young children.
"History has shown us that a vaccine would add a powerful, cost-effective way to save lives and help eliminate this disease," MVI's director Christian Loucq said in a statement Monday.
Clinical trials for the third phase are being carried out in seven African countries and will involve up to 16,000 children aged between six weeks to 17 months.
The third phase monitors safety and potential side effects and evaluates efficacy on a large scale.
If successful, the phase three testing and license of the vaccine would make it a "first generation malaria vaccine that is at least 50 percent effective against severe disease and death and lasts more than one year," MVI said.
The vaccine is primarily intended for infants and children under five who are the most vulnerable to malaria.
In 2006, the international community set a long-term goal of having by 2025 a malaria vaccine that would be at least 80 percent effective against the less severe forms of the disease and last longer than four years.
Other strategies include blocking transmission of malaria from mosquitoes to humans by breaking the lifecycle of the malaria parasite as well as a vaccine against Plasmodium vivax, the less severe but more widespread malaria type.
The Nairobi conference kicked off on Sunday and will close on Friday.