Celebration in Luanda as first Angolan child receives pneumococcal vaccine
One of the first infants in Angola to receive GAVI-supported pneumococcal vaccine.
Photo credit: WHO/Angola.
Luanda 3 June 2013 – Angolan children have begun receiving protection against the world’s largest killer of young children from today as the country introduces the pneumococcal vaccine. The introduction marks a crucial moment for child health in a country that emerged from a quarter of a century of civil war just over a decade ago.
Children gathered at an event in the Angolan capital, Luanda, where they were joined by the country’s Minister of Health, Dr. José Vieira Dias Van Dúnem, and other dignitaries to celebrate the first use in the country of the vaccine, which offers protection against pneumococcal disease. This is a leading cause of pneumonia which is the largest vaccine-preventable killer of children under five in the world.
Angola plans to roll the vaccine out nationally in the coming months. The launch continues the record pace of introductions of GAVI-funded pneumococcal vaccine programmes in developing countries.
“Vaccines are a vital tool to protect the lives of children and give them the opportunity to grow up to become healthy and productive adults contributing to their country’s economic development,” said Dr Seth Berkley, CEO of the GAVI Alliance. “It’s great to see Angola investing in its children by introducing pneumococcal vaccine, which offers protection against one of the major causes of pneumonia, the leading vaccine-preventable killer of children under five worldwide.”
Dr. José Vieira Dias Van Dúnem added: “The introduction of the Pneumo vaccine is part of a strategic intervention by the National Programme on Health Development until 2025, developed to accelerate the reduction of infant mortality.”
Vaccines are a vital tool to protect the lives of children and give them the opportunity to grow up to become healthy and productive adults contributing to their country’s economic development.
Dr Seth Berkley, CEO of the GAVI Alliance
Angola is the fourth country to introduce a pneumococcal vaccine with GAVI support this year, bringing the total number to 28 since 2010. GAVI plans to help more than 50 countries introduce pneumococcal vaccine programmes by the end of 2015.
In the past it has taken as long as two decades for vaccines which are available for children in industrialised countries to reach their peers in developing countries. Thanks to the innovative Advance Market Commitment (AMC), that time has been reduced dramatically for pneumococcal vaccines.
The pilot pneumococcal AMC aims to stimulate the supply of appropriate and affordable pneumococcal vaccines for developing countries.
The pilot AMC was developed in collaboration with the World Bank and Unicef Supply Division. The governments of Italy, the United Kingdom, Canada, the Russian Federation and Norway, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation have committed a total of $1.5 billion to the initiative.
Since it was first introduced with GAVI support in Nicaragua in 2010, it is estimated that more than 10 million children have reached with the pneumococcal vaccine. Thanks to the AMC, the vaccine is reaching children in 28 countries across Africa and Asia, including Ghana, Tanzania and Pakistan.