DPR Korea introduces pentavalent vaccine

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Democratic People’s Republic of Korea will continue to co-finance GAVI vaccines

Child receives pentavalent vaccine in the DPR Korea

Source: Aydogan/GAVI/2012.

Children in DPR Korea will benefit from protection against Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) disease in addition to continuing protection from four other childhood killers as the country introduces the five-in-one pentavalent vaccine into its routine immunisation programme.

Country co-financing

The country’s Minister for Public Health, Dr Choe Chang Sik, launched the pentavalent vaccine at a ceremony at the People Palace of Culture in Pyongyang on Thursday 12 July, 2012. The Government will continue to co-finance the cost of GAVI vaccines to the tune of US$ 834,000 from 2012 to 2015.

Pentavalent vaccine protects infants against diphtheria, pertussis (whooping cough), tetanus, Hepatitis B and Hib. Hib causes bacterial meningitis and pneumonia and routine use of the vaccine in many other GAVI-eligible countries has led to virtual eradication of Hib disease.

GAVI support

To date, 67 out of 73 GAVI-eligible countries have introduced pentavalent vaccines with GAVI support. Timor-Leste, Myanmar, Indonesia and Somalia are also planning to introduce pentavalent before the end 2013.

“Our aim is to ensure that all children in developing countries have access to the best life-saving vaccines no matter where they are born,” said GAVI Alliance CEO Dr Seth Berkley.

Hib leads to an estimated three million cases of serious illness and up to 400,000 deaths globally each year, mainly in children under five. 

The introduction of this pentavalent vaccine in DPR Korea will mean that now around 350,000 children under one will be vaccinated every year against Hib in addition to other vaccines

Bijaya Rajbhandari, UNICEF Representative in DPR Korea

Investing in immunisation

“The introduction of this pentavalent vaccine in DPR Korea will mean that now around 350,000 children under one will be vaccinated every year against Hib in addition to other vaccines,” said Bijaya Rajbhandari, UNICEF Representative in DPR Korea.

The World Health Organisation’s Representative in Pyongyang, Dr Yonas Tegegn, said: “The Government of DPR Korea has made considerable investments in the field of immunisation and in saving lives of the children and mothers.”

“DPR Korea is one of the few countries in the WHO South-East Asia Region to achieve consistently high coverage for vaccines. There have been no reported cases of poliomyelitis since 1996 and no measles since the mass vaccination campaign in April 2007,” he added.

Strengthening immunisation systems

Working closely with WHO and UNICEF which have staff in the country, GAVI has supported DPR Korea since 2001 and has helped the country strengthen its immunisation systems, including a major upgrade of the cold chain system to ensure sufficient space for introduction of pentavalent and potentially other new vaccines such as rotavirus and pneumococcal, which address two of the major killers of children under five worldwide.

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GAVI has provided funding to strengthen health systems and immunisation services in more than 70 countries.

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