Malaria is a serious tropical disease transmitted by mosquitoes and can be fatal. One bite is enough for a person to be infected.
News of the vaccine has given hope that it could save the lives of tens of thousands of children across Africa.
WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus celebrated this milestone as “a historic moment”.
He said: “I started my career as a malaria researcher and looked forward to the day when we had an effective vaccine against this ancient and terrible disease.
“And today is that day, a historic day. Today, WHO recommends wide use of the world’s first malaria vaccine.
WHO’s main advisory bodies on malaria and immunization, the Malaria Policy Advisory Group and the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization, made the announcement at the Geneva conference.
The RTS, S vaccine – also known as Mosquirix – was developed by the British drug manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline.
The jab has been successfully deployed to more than 800,000 children in Ghana, Kenya and Malawi since the pilot program began in 2019.
Dr Pedro Alonso, director of the WHO Global Malaria Program, said: “From a scientific point of view, this is a massive breakthrough, from a public health point of view, it is a historic achievement.
“We have been researching a malaria vaccine for over 100 years now that will save lives and prevent disease in African children.”