14 February 2011 - In an effort to protect more children against pneumococcal disease ― which causes life-threatening illnesses such as pneumonia, meningitis and sepsis ― the Government of Kenya, with support from WHO and partners, is introducing the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine. Kenya is the fourth country to include the vaccine into its national immunization programme in the past three months, after Nicaragua, Sierra Leone and Yemen. The introduction comes less than two years after the same vaccine was introduced in industrialized countries.
The rapid roll-out of new-generation pneumococcal vaccine shows how innovation and technology can be harnessed, at affordable prices, to save lives in the developing world. The payback, as measured by reduced childhood mortality, will be enormous, said Dr Margaret Chan, WHO Director-General.
Every year, an estimated 1.6 million deaths worldwide occur due to childhood pneumonia. The consequences of these illnesses are staggering more than half a million child deaths, thousands of disabled children, high treatment costs, productivity losses as well as pain and suffering for millions of children and families. Accelerating routine use of pneumococcal conjugate vaccines in developing countries can make a real difference in reducing child deaths and put priority countries closer to reaching Millennium Development Goal four, to reduce the under-five mortality rate by two-thirds between 1990 and 2015.
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