Vaccines to prevent pneumonia deaths reaching poor countries in record time

13 million more children protected as GAVI marks World Pneumonia Day

A vaccine against the leading cause of pneumonia is protecting millions more children in developing countries, according to figures compiled to mark the fourth World Pneumonia Day.

By the end of 2012, the vaccine will have reached an estimated 13 million children in the world’s poorest countries. To date, 21 countries have already introduced the pneumococcal vaccine in record time, with support from the GAVI Alliance. By 2015, more than 50 countries plan to introduce the vaccine, protecting millions more children from one of the leading causes of pneumonia.

Tools to change

“Pneumonia is a painful disease that claims the lives of over a million children every year,” said Dr Seth Berkley, CEO of the GAVI Alliance, “We have the tools to change this. GAVI is taking the lead in ensuring that countries that want to vaccinate their children against pneumococcal disease, one of the leading causes of pneumonia, are supported to do so.”

GAVI has also supported the introduction of a vaccine that protects against Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib), which is another leading cause of pneumonia. Almost all of the 73 countries GAVI works in have introduced the vaccine, reaching 120 million children. By the end of 2012, it is projected that over 600,000 future deaths caused by Hib disease will have been prevented through GAVI Alliance support.

World Pneumonia Day

World Pneumonia Day aims to raise awareness about the toll pneumonia takes on the world’s children and to promote interventions to protect against, treat, and prevent the disease. On the first World Pneumonia Day in 2009, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), together with GAVI and partners, launched the Global Action Plan for Prevention and Control of Pneumonia (GAPP). This plan focuses on increasing access to vaccines, improving nutrition (through measures such as exclusive breastfeeding), reducing exposure to indoor air pollution, and increasing access to antimicrobial drugs that can treat pneumonia.

You can read the full press release from the GAVI Alliance here.

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