FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 30, 2016

Indonesia introduces pentavalent vaccine for children

Indonesia recently announced an ambitious plan to vaccinate children against five major diseases throughout the country's 6,000 inhabited islands by the end of 2014, thanks to the help of the GAVI Alliance.

GAVI will support Indonesia's plan to buy the pentavalent vaccine from Bio Farma, a national vaccine supplier based in Bandung, Indonesia. The vaccine protects against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, hepatitis B and Haemophilus influenzae type B.

Representatives from the GAVI Alliance, UNICEF and the World Health Organization joined the Indonesian Ministry of Health in a ceremony to commemorate the start of the campaign in August.

"With strong political will, Indonesia is making strides towards improving its routine immunization program and making it sustainable in the long term," Helen Evans, the deputy CEO of the GAVI Alliance, said. "The Minister (of Health Nafsiah Mboi) has rightly set an ambitious target for children in all parts of Indonesia to have access to the five-in-one pentavalent vaccine by the end of next year."

Distribution trucks are already transporting vaccine stocks from Bio Farma's plant to regional cold storage rooms so that the vaccines can be delivered to many of Indonesia's remote areas.

"UNICEF is pleased to continue its support to the government of Indonesia for the introduction of new vaccines," Angela Kearney, UNICEF's country representative, said. "Despite immunization programs being in place for several decades, children in Indonesia continue to suffer and die from vaccine preventable diseases. Let us use the opportunity of the introduction of pentavalent vaccine to reach the poorest and hardest to reach children and protect them from preventable deaths and suffering."

The introduction of the pentavalent vaccine may help to contribute to the achievement of Millennium Development Goal IV, which seeks to reduce the global under-five mortality rate by two-thirds by 2015.

"We applaud the collaborative and sustainable approach taken by Indonesia to develop and introduce pentavalent vaccine," Khanchit Limpakarnjanarat, WHO's country representative, said. "It is one of many powerful and safe vaccines commercially available to countries that can reduce childhood deaths and disability. We hope this is the beginning of a new era in public health in Indonesia where highly cost-effective vaccines play an expanded role in reaching the country's millennium development goals."

Since 2002, GAVI has provided $57 million to support immunization in Indonesia.