Brazzaville marks Congo's first pneumococcal vaccinations

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At a special ceremony at the Marian Ngoubai Health Centre in Brazzaville, Congo became the 15th sub-Saharan African country to introduce pneumococcal vaccine into its Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI).

11 October 2012

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Some 200 Congolese mothers watched as children received Congo's first-ever doses of pneumococcal vaccine. 

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First Lady Antoinette Sassou Nguesso put on a doctor's white coat and vaccinated one child herself. With pneumonia listed as the second cause of death in children aged less than five, pneumococcal vaccine will significantly reduce child mortality.

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The Italian Ambassador in Brazzaville, Nicolo Tassoni Estense, addresses the ceremony.  Italian funding - together with support from Canada, Norway, the Russian Federation, the UK and the BMGF - was instrumental in setting-up the Advance Market Commitment which encouraged manufacturers to produce large quantities of pneumococal vaccine for developing countries.

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Marianne Flach, UNICEF representative to Congo emphasised the critical role of parents in recognising pneumonia in its early stages and immediately taking the infected child to a local health centre for appropriate care.

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Support from UNICEF, WHO and GAVI has helped Congo's Health Ministry train vaccination managers and health workers to face the day to day challenges of introducing a new vaccine.

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By the end of 2012, the EPI expects to immunise more than 160,000 Congolese children, aged between two and 11 months.

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