Bangladesh set to launch anti-pneumonia vaccine on Saturday to cut child deaths

Bangladesh is finally introducing pneumococcal vaccine on Saturday in its routine vaccination programme to prevent pneumonia, a leading baby killer.

Published : 20 March 2015, 01:04 PM
Updated : 20 March 2015, 02:03 PM

Health Minister Mohammed Nasim will launch the new vaccine at a function in Dhaka.
He will also launch the injectable form of polio vaccine, IPV, at the same event.
Bangladesh has long been planning to introduce anti-pneumonia vaccine in its routine campaign as the disease contributes to more than one-fifth of under-five deaths.
The government has doubled its vaccine storage capacity in 2013 to introduce pneumococcal vaccine.
Global vaccine alliance Gavi, UN agencies UNICEF and WHO, and the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) that support Bangladesh for child vaccination issued a joint statement announcing the new initiative.
They said over three million children would benefit from pneumococcal vaccine, and the injectable form of polio vaccine would be launched as part of the ‘Polio Eradication and Endgame Strategic Plan 2013-2018’.
Bangladesh is polio-free along with its neighbouring countries of the WHO’s South-East Asia region.
The region, however, is advised to continue vaccination to maintain the polio-free status.
India’s neighbour Pakistan, which belongs to a separate WHO region, Eastern Mediterranean, is not polio-free.
Bangladesh used to feed children oral polio vaccine (OPV) but it is decided globally to shift from OPV to IPV.
OPV being a half killed vaccine can rarely develop polio into a child. IPV which is costlier than the OPV is a killed vaccine. Bangladesh will shift to IPV gradually.
GAVI CEO Dr Seth Berkley said introduction of pneumococcal vaccine would have “a major positive impact” on child survival since 22 percent under-5 children die of pneumonia in Bangladesh.
Aiming to reduce child deaths from the vaccine-preventable diseases, Bangladesh started the EPI in 1979 with six vaccines against infectious diseases – tuberculosis, polio, diphtheria, whooping cough, tetanus and measles.
Currently, vaccines against nine diseases are being administered to children under 1-year old.
The full coverage is more than 85 percent, an achievement that helped Bangladesh to become one of the six countries in the world that achieved MDG on child mortality before the 2015 deadline.
The GAVI also awarded Bangladesh twice for the best coverage in the world.
UNICEF representative in Dhaka Edouard Beigbeder said: “With high immunisation coverage in Bangladesh, this introduction of two more vaccines, PCV and IPV, is a step in the right direction.”
Representative Dr N Paranietharan said: “We are confident that the introduction and uptake will continue to remain high. WHO will continue to support the Bangladesh’s EPI programme.”