Introduction of life-saving pneumococcal vaccine targets 1.3 million infants in Sudan

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UNICEF / WHOSudanese children have begun receiving pneumococcal vaccine that will protect them from a leading cause of pneumonia, the biggest killer of children under five in low income countries (Joint news release: GAVI Alliance/UNICEF/WHO)

PCV13 vaccine, near Khartoum

The first two infants to receive the PCV13 vaccine, held by the WHO representative Dr Anshu Banerjee (right) and the Local Commissioner (left) in Gabal Awlia, near Khartoum.

Khartoum, Geneva, New York, 2 August 2013 - Some 1.3 million infants in Sudan are being targeted in a nationwide pneumococcal conjugate (PCV13) vaccination programme, which commenced on Thursday.

The vaccine will address three of the major killers among infants in Sudan - pneumonia, meningitis, as well septicemia. 

The Ministry of Health with support from GAVI Alliance, World Health Organization (WHO), and UNICEF, decided to introduce the pneumococcal vaccine into the routine expanded programme on immunisation after reviewing local surveillance data and WHO position papers recommending global use of the new vaccine. Sudan joined the Regional Surveillance Network for bacterial meningitis in 2007.

Major killer

Pneumococcal disease is an infection caused by the bacteria Streptococcus pneumoniae that causes several serious illnesses, including: bacterial meningitis, pneumonia, otitis media or an inner ear infection, bacteremia, as well as sinus infections. Infection with pneumococcus is a major cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide.

In Sudan, the incidence of pneumonia among under five children is 19% and it represents 27% of hospital admission causes. Pneumonia is also responsible for 10% of hospital deaths among under-five children, and is the second major cause of death after septicemia.

We hope to reach infants even in areas challenged by security issues. We cannot compromise lives especially those of children

Dr Anshu Banerjee, WHO Representative in Sudan

Progress

Today's event represents a major step forward in Sudan's efforts to improve the health of its future generations. With GAVI Alliance support since 2001, Sudan has been able to introduce various vaccines against childhood diseases, including hepatitis B, Haemophilius influenzae type b and rotavirus. 

WHO and UNICEF are committed to decreasing disabilities and deaths from vaccine preventable diseases, a shared major strategic objective with the Ministry of Health.

Reaching every child

"We hope to reach infants even in areas challenged by security issues. We cannot compromise lives especially those of children. With support from Government and partners, we will work to make sure that no single child in this country will be deprived from vaccination," WHO Representative in Sudan Dr Anshu Banerjee said.

Every Sudanese child has a right to health and the best possible start in life. The PVC13, along with the full regime of life-saving vaccines, is a key intervention to make sure that children are indeed given the best possible start and a fighting chance to survive in good health. 

"Like WHO, UNICEF is committed to support the Government and people of Sudan to make sure that every child is reached with vaccination services", said Mr Geert Cappelaere, UNICEF Representative for Sudan.

A comprehensive plan for the introduction of the new vaccine has been developed covering all components related to vaccination strategy, along with vaccine management, monitoring & evaluation, and financing. A Post Introduction Evaluation will be conducted by WHO, UNICEF and other implementing partners.

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