Zambia protects children against two major diseases

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Pneumococcal and measles second dose vaccines to reach more than 360,000 infants in next 12 months, part of global acceleration in rollout of life-saving vaccines in developing countries

Pneumococcal vaccine

A health worker holds a vial of pneumococcal vaccine

Geneva, 10 July 2013 – Two life-saving vaccines are now permanent fixtures on the immunisation cards of Zambia’s children thanks to support from the GAVI Alliance and its partners.

At a launch ceremony in Lusaka this week, the Zambian Minister for Maternal and Child Health, Dr Joseph Katema, welcomed the introduction of pneumococcal and measles second dose vaccines into the national immunisation programme.

Frontline role

The two vaccines will play a frontline role in combatting infant mortality in Zambia.

Pneumococcal vaccine protects children against one of the major causes of pneumonia – the leading killer of children in developing countries, while a measles outbreak in 2010 saw more than 15,000 reported cases in Zambia.

In the next 12 months, Zambia’s health ministry plans to vaccinate more than 360,000 infants against pneumococcal disease and measles. By 2015, the ministry expects to reach 95% of the 650,000 children born every year with the two life-saving vaccines.

Global acceleration

Zambia’s dual rollout is the latest stage in a global acceleration of the introduction of new vaccines in developing countries.

Zambia is the 10th country to introduce measles second dose vaccine with GAVI support; with the support of its partners, the Alliance plans to ensure the vaccine reaches approximately 41 million children by 2015.

Since 2010, GAVI funding has helped 29 developing countries roll out the pneumococcal vaccine; Zambia is the fifth to do so this year.

Innovative finance

The catalyst for accelerated access to pneumococcal conjugate vaccine has been one of GAVI’s innovative finance mechanisms, the Advance Market Commitment (AMC), which incentivises vaccine manufacturers to supply appropriate and affordable pneumococcal vaccines for developing countries.

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 AMC, this time lag has been reduced dramatically for pneumococcal vaccines with the vaccine now reaching children in 29 countries across Africa and Asia, including Ghana, Tanzania and Pakistan.

Dr Olugegun Babaniyi, a representative from the WHO, and Ms Ambra Sarmati, the Acting Head of the Italian Mission in Zambia, who represented the AMC donors, both attended this week’s launch event.

As the largest donor to the AMC, Italy reiterated their support for innovative financing for development and highlighted the health and wider economic impact of GAVI’s programmes.

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