26 April 2009

Rwanda: President Meets Pneumococcal Vaccine Sponsors

Nyarugenge — President Paul Kagame yesterday held talks with Julian Lob Levyt, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of GAVI (Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization).

The audience that took place at the State House in Kiyovu was also attended by Jim Connolly who represented the Wyeth vaccines, Orin Levine from Pneumo ADIP and Rwanda's Minister of Health, Dr. Richard Sezibera.

Rwanda is the first developing country to introduce a pneumococcal vaccine into its national immunisation programme.

The American health experts were in the country for the official launch of the vaccine.

Speaking to the press shortly after the audience, Levyt said they had come to discuss the progress in thehealth sector.

"We discussed about health in the country, but we also talked about ways to extend our help to the government in the sector," he said.

Stating that they had noticed the good progress Rwanda has made in improving its population's healthcare, Lob Levyt added that their programme wants to make sure every Rwandan child gets access to the pneumococcal vaccine.

The Minister of Health explained that since its introduction in Rwanda almost three weeks ago, the vaccine is now being spread throughout the country, and that it has now arrived in 12 districts.

Sezibera on the other hand hailed the progress registered in fighting Malaria, saying its rate has been reduced to 60 per cent during the last three years.

"People need to know that Malaria is not an incurable disease," he said, explaining that in most cases, Rwandans have been using very simple measures to fight it by using mosquito nets and removing bushes near their homes.

Before the introduction of the pneumococcal vaccine, Pneumonia alone accounted for nearly one in four deaths in children, making it the number one cause of death among children younger than 5 years of age in Rwanda.

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