—–Itezhi tezhi district in Central Province has today launched Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine (PCV-10) for children under the age of five years.
PCV-10 protects children against pneumococcal diseases-pneumonia, bacteriamea, otitis and meningitis.
The launch for Itezhi tezhi district was held at Masemu Urban Health Centre, where mothers and care-givers turned up in numbers to have their children vaccinated.
Speaking during the launch, Itezhi tezhi District Administrative Officer, Akatama Malikana, said pneumonia was one of the leading causes of morbidity and mortality among children under the age of five years in the district.
Ms Malikana, who represented the office of Itezhi tezhi District Commissioner, said one in every ten deaths in children is attributed to pneumonia.
“Pneumonia is a leading killer of children under 5 years old but it can be prevented by vaccinating children with the pneumococcal vaccine. It is safe, effective and provided free of charge in public health facilities in Zambia” she said.
Ms Malikana said the launch of the PCV-10 vaccine in the district was a major step towards fighting pneumonia among children, and a major step towards achieving the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) Number Four.
Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine (PCV-10) that has been launched is in line with the Millennium Development Goal 4 which demands calls for the reduction of child mortality by two-thirds by 2015.
She said government, through Ministry of Community Development, Mother and Child has brought health services closer to the people by ensuring that people are being protected from killer diseases and attaining good health for all.
Ms Malikana has since urged parents and guardians in the district to take their children to the health centres for the vaccines so that as many children as possible are protected from the killer pneumococcal diseases.
She further said in addition to immunization, pneumonia can be prevented by combined efforts such as hand-washing with soap, exclusive breast feeding and other hygiene practices.
She pledged Government’s continued support towards the country having access to life saving vaccines.
And speaking at the same occasion, a representative from Itezhi tezhi District Medical Office, Gershom Siame, said the Ministry of Health and cooperating partners have embarked on a comprehensive approach in clamping down deaths due to pneumococcal complications.
Mr Siame said concerted efforts in the fight against pneumococcal diseases in children less than five years would help save the lives of many children.
The PCV-10 vaccine is an injectable vaccine administered to infants less than one year with the first injection given at six weeks of age, the second at 10 weeks and the third and final dose is done at 14 weeks.
The vaccine that has been introduced to routine immunizations is being sponsored by the Government of the Republic of Zambia (GRZ), United Nations Emergency Children’s Fund (UNICEF) World Health Organization (WHO) and Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI).