Liberia celebrates introduction of pneumoccal vaccine

Liberia and the GAVI Alliance celebrated on Thursday the introduction of a new pneumoccal vaccine, which seeks to prevent a disease that kills 14 percent of Liberian children less than five years old annually.

Pneumococcal disease is one of the leading vaccine-preventable killers of children less than five years old worldwide. The preventable disease takes the lives of approximately 7,000 Liberian children each year, a statistic Liberia hopes will become a thing of the past with the introduction of the pneumococcal vaccine.

"Liberia has a most impressive story to share on the progress that can be made in immunization, and consequently child survival, in spite of the challenges facing the country as a result of their civil war," Deputy CEO of the GAVI Alliance Helen Evans said. "The introduction of this vaccine will further reduce the death and disability caused by pneumonia, specifically amongst children under the age of five who are most vulnerable."

The ceremony was held at the JFK Medical Center in Monrovia and welcomed representatives of the GAVI Alliance, Liberian government, diplomatic corps, World Health Organizations, United Nations Children's Fund, healthcare workers and Liberian citizens.

"Health is a priority for Liberia, and we are grateful for the support from partners to introduce this new vaccine," Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said. "But the responsibility for delivering services to the population is with the country. Liberia is committed to allocate more resources to health including immunization."