Solomon Islands to introduce PCV 13 vaccine
Solomon Islands to introduce the Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine in February.
Solomon Islands will be the seventh Pacific Island nation to introduce the Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine which will protect children from diseases like pneumonia, meningitis, arthritis and bronchitis.
UNICEF Pacific says the Pneumococcus bacteria is the 2nd highest killer in children between 1-5 years old in Solomon Islands and that the introduction of 63,000 doses worth US $207,900 is a good start for the country.
The UNICEF Pacific Representative to Fiji Dr Karen Allen says told Koroi Hawkins more about the vaccine.
DR KAREN ALLAN: Well it's called Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine, which is a bit of a mouthful, so I'll just say PCV. It's not new in the world, it was introduced in the world around 2008. New Zealand was one of the first countries to introduce it. But in the Pacific Island Countries only six other countries have introduced it and so Solomon Islands will be the seventh. And it's been extraordinarily successful for instance, it was introduced in 2008 in New Zealand and there was a 70-71 percent reduction in cases. So, because this bacteria, which causes pneumonia, meningitis, ear infections, sinus infections blood infections. Because it's actually a very significant cause of disease and death in the Solomon Islands. So that's why we are very excited about it.
KOROI HAWKINS: For the rest of the region, this is the seventh country you say, are you seeing it or are you looking at putting it into other countries as well?
DKA: Well certainly all the ministries of health are very aware that it's recommended by WHO and UNICEF and the global health community in general. But it's a question of marshalling the resources to do it. So we are certainly advocating with the other ministries, but Solomon Islands is the only one we know of that this year will be introducing it and it must be said with support from development partners including UNICEF, WHO, something called the Global Alliance for Vaccines, New Zealand Government and Australian Government are all helping to support vaccination in the Solomon Islands.
KH: For Solomon Islands this is related to the MDG four, reducing child mortality, how, how is the overall progress of the country in that regard?
DKA: Well, the under five meaning, children under age five their mortality rates in the Solomon Islands is still 31 per 1000 live births. You can compare that to New Zealand which is six, Australia four or the Scandinavian countries and Japan the lowest in the world, three. But see, this bacteria we believe is causing, well it's the fourth biggest killer in the first month of life and the second biggest killer in the age group one month to five years. And it's a big killer because little children who get it, one fifth of them will die. Mainly because we don't have good control measures in these countries. We don't have good case management. We don't have ready access to antibiotics.
KH: So it is a very important introduction into the health system in that regard.
DKA: It's extremely important. We think it's going to, within one year we are going to see a difference in the morbidity rate and probably the mortality rate as well.
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