Mexican health authorities on Wednesday approved the use of the first-ever officially recognised dengue vaccine, in an effort to combat the disease that inflicts millions of people every year. The vaccine, called Dengvaxia, was developed by French pharmaceutical company Sanofi over the last 20 years, the BBC reported. According to the World Health Organisation, more than 22,000 people die of dengue every year. It is widespread in the urban parts of countries with sub-tropical and tropical climates, mainly those in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

The drug, which protects against four strains of the virus, has been tested on around 29,000 people worldwide, AP reported. It will be used on 40,000 people in Mexico in the initial phase. "With this decision, Mexico moves ahead of all other countries, including France, to tackle the spread of this virus," said the country's health ministry in a statement. At the moment, the vaccine will only be administered to children over the age of nine and adults under 49 in areas that are known to be susceptible to dengue. "It's a very important moment in the history of public health," Olivier Charmeil, the head of Sanofi Vaccines Division, told AFP.

India, too, faces a massive dengue problem. This year, nearly 85,000 cases were reported in the country, of which more than 15,000 were in Delhi, the Hindustan Times stated.