Democratic People’s Republic of Korea will continue to co-finance GAVI vaccines
Children in DPR Korea will benefit from protection against Haemophilus
influenzae type b (Hib) disease in addition to continuing protection from four
other childhood killers as the country introduces the five-in-one pentavalent
vaccine into its routine immunisation programme.
The country’s Minister for Public Health, Dr Choe Chang Sik,
launched the pentavalent vaccine at a ceremony at the People Palace of Culture in
Pyongyang on Thursday 12 July, 2012. The Government will continue to co-finance
the cost of GAVI vaccines to the tune of US$ 834,000 from 2012 to 2015.
Pentavalent vaccine protects infants against diphtheria, pertussis
(whooping cough), tetanus, Hepatitis B and Hib. Hib causes bacterial meningitis
and pneumonia and routine use of the vaccine in many other GAVI-eligible
countries has led to virtual eradication of Hib disease.
To date, 67 out of 73 GAVI-eligible countries have introduced pentavalent vaccines with GAVI support. Timor-Leste, Myanmar, Indonesia and
Somalia are also planning to introduce pentavalent before the end 2013.
“Our aim is to ensure that all children in developing
countries have access to the best life-saving vaccines no matter where they are
born,” said GAVI Alliance CEO Dr Seth Berkley.
Hib leads to an estimated three million cases of serious
illness and up to 400,000 deaths globally each year, mainly in children under
The introduction of this pentavalent vaccine in DPR Korea will mean that now around 350,000 children under one will be vaccinated every year against Hib in addition to other vaccines
Bijaya Rajbhandari, UNICEF Representative in DPR Korea
Investing in immunisation
“The introduction of this pentavalent vaccine in DPR Korea
will mean that now around 350,000 children under one will be vaccinated every
year against Hib in addition to other vaccines,” said Bijaya Rajbhandari, UNICEF
Representative in DPR Korea.
The World Health Organisation’s Representative in Pyongyang,
Dr Yonas Tegegn, said: “The Government of DPR Korea has made considerable
investments in the field of immunisation and in saving lives of the children
“DPR Korea is one of the few countries in the WHO South-East
Asia Region to achieve consistently high coverage for vaccines. There have been
no reported cases of poliomyelitis since 1996 and no measles since the mass
vaccination campaign in April 2007,” he added.
Strengthening immunisation systems
Working closely with WHO and UNICEF which have staff in the
country, GAVI has supported DPR Korea since 2001 and has helped the country
strengthen its immunisation systems, including a major upgrade of the cold chain
system to ensure sufficient space for introduction of pentavalent and
potentially other new vaccines such as rotavirus and pneumococcal, which address two of the major killers
of children under five worldwide.