Itezhi Tezhi district in Central Province has commenced awareness campaigns for a new vaccine- Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine (PCV-10) to protect children against pneumonia, ahead of the national launch slated for April 22 this month.
According to World Health Organization (WHO), Pneumococcal disease, which can cause pneumonia, meningitis and sepsis, kills more than half a million people a year, half of them children under the age of five.
The vaccine Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine (PCV-10), to be launched soon is in line with the Millennium Development Goal 4 which demands calls for the reduction of child mortality by two-thirds by 2015.
Itezhi tezhi District Administrative officer (DAO) Akatama Malikana who represented the District Commissioner at the stakeholder’s orientation meeting at Itezhi tezhi Council Chamber said Pneumonia was a leading killer of children under the age of five in developing countries.
“One in every ten children dies of pneumonia, a diseases which is airborne and preventable” Ms. Malikana said.
She urged all stakeholders to disseminate the information to the community ahead of the launch of the vaccinations.
“The vaccine is safe, effective and it is being provided free of charge in all government health institutions,” she said.
And Itezhi tezhi District Maternal Child Health (MCH) Coordinator Phillis Mukakanga explained that Pneumococcal disease is a group of diseases caused by streptococcus pneumonia bacterium, with the common diseases being pneumonia, meningitis and sinusitis.
“Streptococcus pneumonia bacteria have many serotypes (strains) with the prevalence varying from region to region and country to country,” explains Ms Mukakanga.
The vaccine to be rolled out is being sponsored by the government of Zambia (GRZ) United Nations Emergency Children’s Fund (UNICEF) World Health Organization (WHO) and Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI)
The orientation meeting was attended by heads of government departments, religious leaders, and civic leaders among others.