FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 30, 2016

GAVI funds new pneumonia immunization program in Uganda

A new immunization initiative, funded by the GAVI Alliance, will reach 1.4 million children in Uganda and protect them against pneumonia and other diseases as part of progress towards the 2015 Millennium Development Goals.

The pneumococcal conjugate vaccine that will be used by the initiative was presented at a ceremony officiated by Uganda President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni in eastern Uganda on May 10. The GAVI Alliance, UNICEF, the World Health Organization and the World Bank worked together on the immunization initiative.

The initiative allows for the vaccine to be distributed for free for all children in Uganda, first targeting children under one year old. In 2013 alone, 1.4 million children are expected to be immunized against pneumonia and other diseases such as meningitis, which account for 24,000 deaths in Uganda annually in children under five years of age.

Museveni spoke at the ceremony, telling parents "health is wealth" and encouraging parents to vaccine their children to ensure a healthy life.

"Every child, no matter where he or she is born, should have the opportunity and the right to a healthy life, and vaccines are one of the best ways to provide that," CEO of the GAVI Alliance Dr. Seth Berkley said.

The GAVI Alliance donated $26 million to this cause for immunization supplies and $1.34 million to support operational costs of the initiative, including training and social mobilization.