Child lifesaving vaccine introduced
A joint statement by the Ministry of Public Health, the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF said they would introduce PCV into the routine expanded programme on immunization with support from the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI).
The vaccine will be available for free at all health facilities, the statement said, adding about 30,000 children under age five in Afghanistan die because of pneumonia.
It is estimated that about 150,000 children are affected by pneumonia each year. “PCV will protect children from this and other diseases and is expected to significantly reduce infant mortality in the country.”
Public Health Minister Suraya Dalil said preventing epidemic diseases through vaccination was a cheap and effective way of protecting children against fatal illnesses. “By vaccinating children regularly we can reduce child mortality in Afghanistan,” she added.
“While great progress has been made in recent years, Afghanistan still has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the world.” said Karin Hulshof, Regional Director UNICEF South Asia.
“The introduction of PCV in Afghanistan is a very significant milestone in our joint efforts to protect the future generations of this country,” she added.
“Vaccines are one of history's great and most cost-effective public health success stories, they give children a chance to grow up healthy, go to school and improve their life prospects. It is critically important that parents make sure their children receive all doses of the recommended vaccines,” said Dr. Rik Peeperkorn, WHO Afghanistan Representative. “WHO will continue its technical and financial support for the routine immunization program to ensure all children are vaccinated, “he added.
"Afghanistan is taking a big step towards securing a healthier future for its children," said Dr Seth Berkley, CEO of the GAVI Alliance. "The addition of pneumococcal vaccine to the childhood immunisation package will help protect the lives of the children who represent the country's future."
The vaccine is being implemented in three rounds, at six-week, ten weeks, and fourteen weeks of the life of a child by injection in muscle that prevents the child lifelong against various diseases including, Pneumonia, meningitis and otitis.
The effectiveness of this vaccine has been determined from 80 to 97 percent. Afghan government has taken part in funding of this vaccine as well.
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