PAKISTAN WELCOMES NEW PNEUMONIA VACCINE
UN Photo/Evan Schneider
Pakistan will be the first Asian country to launch a new vaccine against childhood pneumonia, UNICEF and the United Nations announced today.
The vaccine will be given to 5 million children annually, and will save tens of thousands of lives, mostly among children below the age of five.
Pneumonia is the leading cause of death among children worldwide, and in Pakistan it accounts for one-fifth of deaths of children under five. Dan Rorhmann, Pakistan’s Country representative for UNICEF said he felt proud to work together with the Pakistani government protecting millions of children against the disease.
“As the first country in Asia to introduce Pneumococcal vaccine, Pakistan’s commitment to immunizing all children against vaccine preventable diseases is to be applauded,“ he said.
In a joint press release issued by UN agencies and the Pakistani government.
The vaccine is financed by the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations (GAVI), an organization that has provided vaccines to more than 325 million children worldwide since its establishment in 2000.
They too mention their cooperation with the Pakistani government key to their success. “ Through our partners on the ground and working with the Government of Pakistan we aim to reach millions of children with this lifesaving pneumococcal vaccine,” Helen Evans, deputy CEO of the GAVI Alliance said.
That Pakistan leads the way in the fight against Pneumonia in Asia is significant, since the country has been combating many childhood diseases that have been eradicated in other countries, most notably Polio. Pakistan is one of the few countries where Polio remains a problem, albeit being concentrated in minority populations in remote areas.
Dr. Guido Sabatinelli, WHO representative in Pakistan also welcomes the arrival of the vaccine in Pakistan. “Above all, we must not lose sight of the heavy infant and child mortality burden facing Pakistan’s families, “He said. “The introduction of the Pneumococcal vaccine represents an important milestone in the fight to reduce this burden.”