By Lexi Elo
Over four million doses of pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV) are expected in the first phase of the vaccine rollout in 12 states of the country – Yobe, Ebonyi, Rivers, Adamawa, Kaduna, Anambra, Plateau, Osun, Edo, Katsina, Kogi and Ondo States.
With nearly 200,000 children dying from pneumonia annually in Nigeria, second to India’s burden, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the vaccine aids children in the production of antibodies against pneumococcal bacteria, thereby ensuring attainment of Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 4, which seeks to reduce child morbidity and mortality associated with pneumococcal related diseases by two-thirds in 2015.
Adamu Nuhu, director, Communication and Advocacy at the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA), said that with the introduction of the vaccine, all children under one year of age would be vaccinated with three doses of PCV10, one of the vaccines to be used during routine National Immunisation Plus Days in the country.
According to Nuhu “We work in collaboration with key partners for our programmes, especially immunization. The vaccines are coming from the supply department of the UNICEF in Copenhagen. For this, Phase 1 States (12 States) we expect a total of 4 million doses of the PCV10 vaccines to be distributed to those States.”
Giving an insight on the disease, Nuhu explained: “Pneumococcus is a normal resident of human naso-pharynx in healthy individuals. It is a bacterium that has the potential to cause infection, which could be mild such as in middle ear infection, bronchitis or severe as in pneumonia, meningitis. The 13 most common serotypes of pneumococcus cause 80 percent to 93 percent of serious pneumococcal disease in children globally. Children less than five years of age and the elderly are most at risk of developing and dying from pneumococcal disease.”
Osahon Enabulele, vice president, Commonwealth Medical Association, explained that pneumococcal disease imposes a significant economic burden for families and communities, leading to a rise in the cycle of poverty.
“Prevention of pneumococcal diseases through vaccination will result in significant cost savings while also improving patient care and indirectly reducing overall mortality. It has been proven highly effective globally.
The benefits of extensive vaccination in the nation’s immunisation plan extend beyond an immediate public health impact,” Enabulele pointed out.
This development comes as an additional 45.9 million doses of the vaccine is expected from the early quarter of 2015 to 2017. The second phase which is set to commence by April 2015 is expected to cover states such as Ogun, Oyo, Sokoto, Imo, Bayelsa, Cross River, Benue, Taraba and Abia. However, the third phase planned for April 2017 is billed to cover the remaining states across the country.
Nigeria lies within the Pneumococcal Meningitis belt of Africa where the burden of pneumonia places on families and the health system in resource-constrained countries in turn exacerbates inequalities.
A cursory look at the disease show that poor environmental hygiene, poor nutrition worsened by dwindling economic fortunes of families and communities, poor ventilation worsened by over-crowding and unwholesome building construction practices and ignorance are reasons that predispose Nigerians, especially children to the deadly disease.