Kenya gets pneumococcal vaccine

2011-02-14 12:23
Nairobi - Kenya on Monday became the first African country to introduce a routine vaccine against pneumococcal disease, which claims the lives of more than half a million children under five each year.

At a ceremony in the capital Nairobi - attended by President Mwai Kibaki and other dignitaries - to mark the global roll-out of the vaccine, hundreds of infants received their first shots.

"The pneumococcal vaccine can help us to dramatically reduce the number of children who die from pneumonia, a killer disease that is responsible for millions of deaths globally every year," Anthony Lake, Executive Director of the UN Children's Agency Unicef, said in a statement.

According to the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI Alliance), which is supporting the roll-out, pneumococcal disease claims the lives of over a million of people every year and accounts for 18% of child deaths in developing nations, making it the world's biggest child-killing disease.

The GAVI Alliance is aiming to introduce the vaccine to 19 developing countries - including Nicaragua, Guyana, Yemen and Sierra Leone - within a year and hopes to reach more than 40 nations by 2015, depending on funding.

"Routine vaccination is one of the most cost-effective public health investments a government can make and we are counting on our donors to continue their strong backing for our life-saving mission," said Helen Evans, interim CEO of the GAVI Alliance.

Affordability of vaccine

The body needs $3.7bn over the next five years to fund immunisation programmes in impoverished countries.

However, the financing mechanism for the programme - known as the Advance Market Commitment (AMC) - has come under fire in some quarters.

Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said the mechanism provided subsidies of $225m to two major pharmaceutical companies -GlaxoSmithKline and Pfizer - and did not do enough to ensure competition from producers in developing nations.

According to MSF, emerging nation suppliers could provide a dose of the vaccine for $2, compared to the current $3.5. This price difference could prove crucial in making the vaccine affordable when the GAVI Alliance support in some nations runs out in 2015, MSF said.

However, Marina Krawczyk, a spokesperson for the GAVI Alliance, said the criticism was unfounded.

"The truth is, the legally-binding AMC price that we have been able to secure is a reduction of about 90% compared with the same vaccine being sold in the European Union and in the United States," she said.

"And for the first time in history, we were able to guarantee that a new vaccine can be given to the world's poorest children almost at the same time of it reaching children in industrialised nations," she added.

Read more on:    mwai kibaki  |  kenya  |  health  |  east africa

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts

The moon moves into your sign today emphasising your busy mind. It may be hard to sit still as you have a restless and more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.