Islamabad — Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf announced today the introduction of a new vaccine to protect Pakistani children from pneumonia – a disease that takes the lives of approximately 1.3 million children globally before their fifth birthday.
With this launch, Pakistan is the first country in South Asia to introduce the pneumococcal vaccine.
“As the first country in South Asia to introduce the pneumococcal vaccine, Pakistan’s commitment to immunizing all children against vaccine preventable diseases is to be applauded,” said Dan Rohrmann, UNICEF Pakistan Country Representative. “We are proud to partner with the Government of Pakistan in its efforts to innoculate millions of children against a disease that continues to take too many lives.”
The latest UN estimates indicate that pneumonia accounts for 18 percent of child mortality – the primary cause of death among young children globally. In Pakistan, more than 352,000 children die before reaching their fifth birthday and almost one in five of these deaths are due to pneumonia. While the new pneumococcal vaccines cannot prevent every case of pneumonia, they do prevent a significant proportion of cases and therefore have the potential to save tens of thousands of lives from preventable sickness and death.
… we aim to reach millions of children with this lifesaving pneumococcal vaccine
Helen Evans, deputy CEO of the GAVI Alliance
“Today’s historic introduction of pneumococcal vaccine underlines our commitment to the children of Pakistan,” said Helen Evans, deputy CEO of the GAVI Alliance. “Through our partners on the ground and working with the Government of Pakistan we aim to reach millions of children with this lifesaving pneumococcal vaccine.
“I am pleased that GAVI’s strong financial commitment is being matched by the will of the Pakistan Government to tackle a disease that needlessly claims the lives of tens of thousands of Pakistani children every year.”
The introduction of the pneumococcal vaccine is an important milestone in the fight to reduce the burden caused by pneumonia in Pakistan. The partnership between the Government of Pakistan and the GAVI Alliance – which includes UNICEF, WHO and civil society, among many other partners – to deliver this life-saving vaccine to Pakistan’s children, as well as a renewed commitment to strengthening the current routine immunisation system, provides a solid foundation for a stronger, healthier nation.
“The World Health Organization welcomes the launch of the pneumococcal vaccine in Pakistan” said Dr. Guido Sabatinelli, WHO Representative in Pakistan.
“Above all, we must not lose sight of the heavy infant and child mortality burden facing Pakistan’s families; the introduction of the pneumococcal vaccine represents an important milestone in the fight to reduce this burden. We look forward to working in partnership with the Government of Pakistan, UNICEF and the GAVI Alliance to deliver this life-saving vaccine to Pakistan’s children. We also hope that procurement procedures can be streamlined and be made more efficient so that life-saving vaccines make their way to the communities that need it most.”
Advance Market Commitment
The pneumococcal vaccine is available in Pakistan thanks to GAVI’s innovative Advance Market Commitment (AMC). The AMC provides incentives for manufacturers to produce large quantities of pneumococcal vaccine which can then reach developing countries as much as a decade earlier than they historically would have done.
The AMC is funded by Canada, Italy, Norway, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
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