New vaccine to better protect children against severe bacterial infections


13-September-2018

Babies and young children will from now on be better protected from potentially serious infections of the lungs, brain, spinal cord, blood, the middle ear caused by the bacteria pneumococcus, now that a new vaccine has been introduced.

The pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV) was launched on Tuesday afternoon at the English River health centre by Health Minister Jean-Paul Adam and half a dozen three-month-old babies present at the ceremony were the first to be vaccinated.

This was in the presence of a group of health professionals from both the Seychelles Hospital and the English River health centre as well as the babies’ parents.

The PCV, one of the most recommended vaccine by the World Health Organisation (WHO), will now be included in the national Expanded Programme of Immunisation (EPI) of Seychelles joining others such as Hib and measles, all aimed at improving the quality of life of all Seychellois by curbing the ever increasing rise in health costs for the country associated with vaccines preventable diseases.

Programme manager for EPI, Florida Bijoux, has welcomed the new vaccine noting that there is quite a number of children who are admitted in hospital with pneumonia.

She added that this new vaccine will better protect them from more severe strains of the disease, noting that at present children are receiving the Hib vaccine which is not necessarily effective in protecting against different strains of the disease.

“We expect that with the vaccine the number of children being admitted with pneumonia, ear infections and others will reduce considerably,” Mrs Bijoux pointed out.

An investment entirely made by the Ministry of Health, the vaccine costs US $46 per dose and each infant requires three doses – administered at three, four and five months old.

She noted that the cost of the complete doses for a year has amounted to over US $300,000 or just over R4 million.

As the health ministry continues to strive to improve health care for our children, the future of our country, Mrs Bijoux lamented the fact that there are 10 children whose parents are reluctant to allow them to be vaccinated because of their religious beliefs.

Mrs Bijoux said health officials will continue to try and convince those parents on the advantages of the vaccine and the ravage pneumonia can cause on the health of their children, thus the importance of protecting them.

“If they insist on not agreeing for their children to be vaccinated there is a great risk for their immunity to be reduced and the possibility of catching the severe strains of those diseases increases,” noted Mrs Bijoux, adding that it will be a heavy blow to the achievements of the gains in child healthcare.

Health Care Agency chief executive, Dr Danny Louange, highlighted the achievements and progress of the health sector and the immunisation programme in place.

In remarks before launching the vaccine, Minister Adam stated that “immunisation is one of the most cost-effective ways to deliver results in any health sector and Seychelles has the results to prove this”.

He went on to stress that it should not be acceptable for any child to die from a preventable disease and in Seychelles the introduction of the pneumococcal vaccine is a sign of the government’s ongoing effort to provide improved life-saving vaccines to all our children starting with the very young and this is expected to drastically help reduce their hospital admissions.

Minister Adam went on to note that the new vaccine will not only contribute in reducing deaths caused by pneumonia but will among other things pave the way to achieve the SDGs in particular SDG 3.  The latter relates to ending preventable deaths among newborns and children under five years of age with all countries aiming to reduce mortality among children to at least as low as 12 per 1000 live births and under five years to as low as 25 per 1000 live births.

“In Seychelles we are already below those rates. In 2016, the infant mortality rate decreased from 13.37 to 10.9 in 2017,” Minister Adam stressed, noting that the under five mortality rate has also decreased from 14.59 in 2016 to 13.33 in 2017.

He expressed the hope that in spite of numerous challenges being faced the health sector will continue to achieve good results in this area.

The minister availed of the opportunity to thank all health professionals in child health development and promotion who have made the roll out of the vaccine possible.

 

 

 

 

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