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Several Immunisations Developed in the 21st Century to Stop Childhood Deaths and Cervical Cancer

NADI, 29 September 2010 – “The first decade of the 21st century can be described as the golden years for immunisation history with the licensure of vaccines against major diseases such as diarrhoea, pneumonia, meningitis and cervical cancer.”
Dr Manju Rani, Scientist with the World Health Organisation Western Pacific Regional Office delivered these remarks in her opening presentation to regional health practitioners attending the 6th Pacific Immunisation Programme Strengthening (PIPS) workshop in Nadi today.
“Pneumonia and diarrhoea are the most common causes of hospitalization for children under five years old, and acute bacterial meningitis is one of the most common causes of disability for children under five years old,” said Dr Rani.
“The routine use of new vaccines such as Pneumococcal Conjugate (PCV), Hemophilus Influenzae (Hib) and Rotavirus against the two leading killers of children – pneumonia and diarrhoea – could save more than thousands of lives globally by 2015,” she added.
However, with new immunisations come several issues such as high costs and relevance or priority of different immunisations for different countries. For instance, some countries may find that Rotavirus, which is used for the prevention of diarrhoeal diseases is best introduced instead of Pneumococcal Conjugate (PCV), which is used for the prevention of pneumonia and meningitis.
The introduction of new vaccines always face the issue of high cost and financing. “Hence initial introduction of these vaccines in developing countries may require external catalytic funding and one such initiative at global level is the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI), which is helping 72 poorest countries globally with the introduction of these new vaccines. However in Pacific Island Countries (PICs) a more local sub-regional initiative maybe needed similar to the earlier Pacific Hepatitis B project funded by AusAID and NZAID in mid 1990s which helped to expand Hepatitis B vaccine in 13 PICs,” said Dr Rani.
In 2011, Solomon Islands and Kiribati may introduce Rotavirus with assistance from GAVI.
Federated States of Micronesia, Niue and the Republic of Marshall Islands are the only Pacific countries that have introduced all three vaccines - Pneumococcal Conjugate (PCV), Rotavirus, and Human Papillomavirus (HPV) which protects young women against cervical cancer.
Delegates from the Pacific are attending the 6th PIPS workshop which runs from September 27th – October 1st and is being hosted by the Government of Fiji. The workshop is organised by the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), World Health Organisation (WHO), United States Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Government of Japan, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID), and New Zealand Agency for International Development (NZAID).
For more information please contact Donna Hoerder, UNICEF Communications Specialist – External Relations, or 679 9265 518



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