Eritrea launched the introduction of Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine (PCV-13) in to routine immunization program. The event which took place at Villagio Community Hospital was attended by officials of MOH, UN, Health Workers, Journalists and the General Public.
Pneumococcal disease is one of the leading vaccine-preventable killers of young children world wide. It killed more than 500,000 children younger than five years of age in 2008 alone. Approximately, 90% of these deaths occurred in the developing world.
The introduction of this vaccine, which the process started early this year with support from WHO, UNICEF and GAVI alliance is expected to further reduce child death in the country.
Dr Andebrahan Tesfazion, A/Director General of Public Health made welcoming address and said that Eritrea is among the countries which introduced this type of vaccine in mid-year 2015 and the impact will be seen in reducing the number of cases of pneumococcal among children below the age of five years as of next year. This will be translated to the reduction of morbidity and mortality and the costs incurred for the management of this disease.
At the launching, Dr Abdulmumini Usman, WHO Representative to Eritrea congratulated the government of Eritrea particularly the Ministry of Health for introducing the new vaccine. He added that even though Eritrea may have achieved the Millennium Development Goals, however there is more work to be done on the post 2015 agenda. Dr Abdulmumini expressed that PCVs are safe as well as efficacious and will have great significance in reducing child mortality; “thus the introduction of PCVs is timely”.
Hon. Minister of Health, Mrs Amina Nurhussien expressed that Eritrea has achieved 90% coverage of fully vaccinated children and this is due to strong people, government, health workers and partners’ commitment are the main reasons for its success. She also reiterated that the government will continue to work hard in this area and the introduction of PCVs will make a difference.
On behalf of Dr Suleiman Braimoh, UNICEF Country Representative, Pelucy Ntambirweki, Deputy Representative said that Eritrea’s achievements in the Expanded Programme on Immunization are a major factor in the country’s success in the health – related Millennium Development Goals, and provides a good foundation to move into the Sustainable Development Goals which will replace the MDGs.
Participants at the event undertook a guided tour of the hospital before the launching ceremony. The invited dignitaries also observed children being vaccinated.