Hundreds of infants in Kenya will receive their first shots against pneumococcal disease on Monday 14 February at a special event to celebrate the global roll-out of vaccines targeting the world’s biggest child killer -- pneumonia.
Pneumococcal disease currently takes the lives of over a million of people every year – including more than half a million children before their fifth birthday. Pneumonia is the most common form of serious pneumococcal disease and accounts for 18% of child deaths in developing countries, making it one of the two leading causes of death among young children.
Kenya is the fifth country to introduce pneumococcal conjugate vaccine in the past three months, after Nicaragua, Guyana, Sierra Leone and Yemen. All countries benefited from the support from the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI) which brings together governments, UNICEF, WHO and other key players in global health.
GAVI has committed to support the introduction of pneumococcal vaccines in 19 developing countries within a year and, if it gets sufficient funding from its donors, plans to roll them out to more than 40 countries by 2015.
GAVI needs an additional US$ 3.7 billion over the next five years to continue its support for immunisation in the world’s poorest countries and introduce new and underused vaccines including the pneumococcal vaccine and the rotavirus vaccine which tackles diarrhoea – the second biggest killer of children under five.
The roll-out of the pneumococcal vaccines in the developing world has been made possible through an innovative finance mechanism pioneered by GAVI called the Advance Market Commitment (AMC).
With US$ 1.5 billion from Italy, the United Kingdom, Canada, the Russian Federation, Norway, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and a commitment of US$ 1.3 billion from GAVI, the AMC allowed the acceleration of production capacity from the two manufacturers contracted so far. This is securing the supply of pneumococcal vaccines within a year following the introduction of those vaccines in Europe and in the United States and at a fraction of the price charged in rich countries.