Somalia will receive new pentavalent vaccine

Approximately 500,000 Somalian children will benefit from a new vaccine meant to protect them from five potentially deadly childhood disease, according to a recent U.N. report.

The new pentavalent vaccine will protect children against Haemophilus influenzae type B, hepatitis B, whooping cough, tetanus and diphtheria. Haemophilus influenzae type B is a bacteria that can cause pneumonia, meningitis and other diseases.

The U.N. Children's Fund said the ongoing Somalian conflict broke down the health system, giving the country some of the worth health indicators in the world. According to the agency, one out of every five Somali children die before the age of five.

Sikander Khan, UNICEF's representative in Somalia, said the pentavalent vaccine will help Somalia break its cycle of unnecessary childhood deaths.

"I sincerely believe that we will make that difference and we will shift that paradigm that has been in existence in this country for children for the past 20 or so years," Khan said.

The GAVI Alliance, the World Health Organization and UNICEF are providing more than 1.3 million vaccine doses to Somalia during 2013. Each child must receive three doses of the vaccine for optimum protection.

"It is crucial that this vaccine reaches every Somali child in the country," Khan said. "We urge all parents, community, traditional and religious leaders to participate in the immunization activity, to ensure all children of Somalia can benefit from the protection offered."