GAVI, WHO and UNICEF introduce pneumococcal vaccine in Sudan

With help from the GAVI Alliance, World Health Organization and UNICEF, the Sudanese Ministry of Health began a nationwide pneumococcal conjugate vaccination program on Thursday targeting approximately 1.3 million infants.

The PCV13 vaccine addresses three of the major killers of infants in Sudan: septicemia, meningitis and pneumonia. Pneumococcal disease, an infection caused by the Streptococcus pneumoniae bacterium, causes multiple serious illnesses, such as pneumonia, bacterial meningitis, otitis media, bacteremia and sinus infections. In Sudan, pneumonia causes 10 percent of hospital deaths among children under five.

"We hope to reach infants even in areas challenged by security issues," Anshu Banerjee, the WHO's representative in Sudan, said. "We cannot compromise lives especially those of children. With support from government and partners, we will work to make sure that no single child in this country will be deprived from vaccination."

GAVI, WHO and UNICEF helped the ministry to develop a comprehensive plan to introduce the new vaccine which includes vaccine management, monitoring, evaluation and financing.

The GAVI Alliance began supporting Sudan in 2001. The WHO and UNICEF are committed to decreasing deaths and liabilities from vaccine preventable diseases in Sudan.

"Like WHO, UNICEF is committed to support the government and people of Sudan to make sure that every child is reached with vaccination services," Geert Cappelaere, UNICEF's representative for Sudan, said.