Launch ceremony for introduction of pentavalent vaccine - Mogadishu, Somalia

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On 24 April 2013, Somalia’s Ministry of Health hosted a special ceremony in Mogadishu to mark the introduction of the five-in-one pentavalent vaccine into the national routine immunisation programme. View this gallery for more pictures from the ceremony.

Somalia penta launch 2013

Somalia had good reason to celebrate the launch of pentavalent vaccine into its national routine immunisation programme. Defying the ravages of a decades-long conflict and one of the lowest immunisation rates in the world, the new vaccine will be delivered to each of the 425,000 Somali children born every year via existing health structures and community health workers at district level.

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High level representatives of the Government as well as the GAVI Alliance, UNICEF and the World Health Organization, gathered at the Villa Somalia, the presidential residence, to mark the historic day.

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Hassan Sheik Mohamud, President of Somalia: “Every district in rural area needs a health centre, clean water , school and vaccination. All that and more. Somali children deserve everything its rich counterparts get. I’m grateful that Allah allowed me to witness this launch in my lifetime and I hope to witness more.”

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Anne Cronin, GAVI Senior Programme Manager: “Somalia’s health system has been destroyed after more than 20 years of conflict. GAVI will support Somalia and its partners in protecting as many children as possible and to rebuild the health system.”

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Maria Qasim, Minister of Human Development and Public Services (wearing yellow scarf, left of picture): “It is unacceptable to die of something that a vaccine can prevent. As a government, we can’t rest until we reach all Somali children and stop the death of children who die from the lack of a simple vaccine.” One in every five Somali children fail to reach their fifth birthday.

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Pentavalent vaccine protects against one of the causes of pneumonia. It is the first time in 35 years that Somali children have access to a vaccine that protects them against an additional disease. Their immunisation cards already include vaccines against diphtheria, pertussis (whooping cough), tetanus, measles, polio and tuberculosis.

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President Sheik Mohamud: “GAVI, UNICEF and WHO have been with the Somalis for the past 22 years. They have lost staff and property. They have faced threat and challenges to save Somali lives. On behalf of the Somali people and on my own behalf, I would like to say thank you”. Somalia is the 71st country eligible for GAVI funding to introduce the pentavalent vaccine – others include Afghanistan, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, East Timor, Pakistan and Yemen.

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