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Experts urge industry and international donors to prepare pneumococcal vaccines

London, UK In today's online edition of The Lancet, a group of leading global health experts have come together to call for vaccine manufacturers and international donors to negotiate affordable pricing of pneumococcal conjugate vaccines and for governments of developing world countries and their partners to establish disease surveillance networks and begin preparations for pneumococcal vaccine introduction.

The experts believe that urgent action to introduce routine childhood pneumococcal vaccination is needed because of the enormous burden of the disease the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that about 1.6 million people, including up to one million children under five years old, die every year of pneumococcal pneumonia, meningitis, and sepsis.1 In populations with high child mortality rates, pneumonia is the leading infectious cause of mortality and accounts for about 20-25% of all child deaths.2

This call to action comes on the eve of a meeting of G8 ministers to discuss funding vaccines. This seems to be the latest step in major changes over the last five years in financing of immunization, including the creation of the GAVI Alliance (Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization) Fund. Dr Orin Levine, the lead author of the article and Executive Director of PneumoADIP a non-governmental organization that aims to shorten the time between use of a vaccine in industrialized nations and their introduction in the developing world commented: "We hope that with such mechanisms in place, all developing countries will begin to consider that millions of children can now be saved by the simple addition of this vaccine to existing immunization programs."

Dr Thomas Cherian, Co-ordinator, Ad Interim, EPI, WHO, and co-author of the article added: "Pneumococcal disease is a major global health issue; what is promising is that a seven-valent vaccine that is effective against seven common strains of the disease is already licensed and in use
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Contact: Hans Kvist
hkvist@jhsph.edu
Strategic Communications
18-May-2006


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