FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 30, 2016

Lao becomes first GAVI supported country to introduce pneumococcal and cervical cancer vaccines

The GAVI Alliance announced on Wednesday that the Lao People's Democratic Republic became the first country in South East Asia to introduce the pneumococcal vaccine and to begin a demonstration project for the HPV vaccine.

The vaccinations began at a ceremony in Vientiane on Wednesday morning that played host to hundreds of infants and school girls. An estimated 180,000 infants will receive the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine and 13,000 young girls will receive the HPV vaccine next year.

"These vaccines are a critical new part of our immunization efforts," Dr. Eksavang Vongvichit, the health minister of Lao PDR, said. "The pneumococcal vaccine helps to prevent pneumonia, which is the main cause of death and illness for Lao children under five years of age. The HPV vaccine will help prevent cervical cancer, one of the highest causes of cancer-related deaths in Lao women. The immunization program is helping us to achieve the maternal and child health Millennium Development Goals, which are a priority for Lao PDR."

LAO PDR is the 32nd GAVI-eligible country to introduce PVC into the immunization program since the program funding began in 2010. The GAVI Alliance expects that if it continues to rapidly roll-out the PCV vaccine to more than 50 countries, it can prevent more than 500,000 deaths by 2015 and up to 1.5 million deaths by 2020.

"The two vaccines will prevent deaths and illness, and contribute to the reduction of child mortality and improve maternal health, which is important to Lao's future development," WHO Representative Dr. Liu Yunguo said.