Tanzania Daily News (Dar es Salaam)

15 December 2012

Tanzania: Pfizer Drug Launched By First Lady Is E. Africa's Life Saver

WHEN you stop to think about it, the death of 100,000 infants per year contributes to the rating of Tanzania as one of the poorest nations in the world where access to vaccines and health services still fail the infants and mothers when they need it most.

Thus the meetings in Dar es Salaam, this week where private sector investors came together with health experts around the world including Unicef, World Health Organization (WHO) and governments struck home a real low for East African children under 5 when Mama Salma Kikwete launched the vaccination, Prevenar 13, a vaccine against pneumonia, which was introduced at the 3 day Partners Forum.

Made by drug manufacturer Pfizer Inc. of the United States and launched by the Global Alliance Vaccinnes Initiative, Prevenar 13 is now included in the expanded pediatric immunization programme in Tanzania. Pneumococcal disease is one of the leading causes of vaccine-preventable deaths worldwide in children younger than 5 years of age and results in more than one out of every five deaths in children younger than 5 years of age in Tanzania.

The availability of Prevenar 13 in Tanzania is made possible by the Advance Market Commitment (AMC), an innovative funding mechanism that provides newer vaccines on a sustainable, affordable and accelerated basis to the world's poorest countries. In just two years, 20 countries, including Tanzania, have introduced Prevenar 13 into their immunization programmes as part of the AMC.

This potentially lifesaving vaccine is being offered to help protect an estimated 10.5 million infants and children in these developing countries from pneumococcal pneumonia and invasive disease caused by the serotypes in the vaccine. "Pfizer is accelerating access to Prevenar 13 to infants and children who are most vulnerable and our partnership with the GAVI Alliance helps ensure that this goal is realized," says Susan Silbermann, president, vaccines, Pfizer.

"Since pneumococcal pneumonia continues to be a major threat to young children in Tanzania, the AMC has the potential to significantly contribute to the achievement of the United Nation's fourth Millennium Development Goal of reducing infant mortality two-thirds by 2015." While public health interventions have helped to decrease infant mortality in Tanzania by 47 per cent between 1990 and 2010, mortality rates are still among the highest in the world.

There are more than 100,000 deaths of Tanzanian children under the age of 5 every year. On Dec. 6, 2012, representatives from the GAVI Alliance, including board chair Dagfinn H¯ybraten; the United Nations; government officials, including Tanzania's Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Hussein Ali Mwinyi and the country's first lady, Salma Kikwete, launched the health vaccination in Buguruni, Dar es Salaam, of the first Tanzanian child with Prevenar 13.

Pfizer will supply up to 480 million doses of Prevenar 13 under the AMC to help expand immunization programmes against pneumococcal disease by 2023. Pfizer has been a long-standing partner of the GAVI Alliance, since March 2010, when the company entered into the first 10-year agreement to provide Prevenar 13 to infants and young children in the world's poorest countries under the AMC framework.

In December 2010, Nicaragua became the first GAVI-eligible country to launch a pneumococcal conjugate vaccine, Prevenar 13, through the AMC. To date, Prevenar 13 has been introduced into the national immunization programmes of the following GAVI-eligible countries: Benin, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Gambia, Ghana, Guyana, Honduras, Malawi, Mali, Nicaragua, Rwanda, Sao Tome, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Yemen and Zimbabwe.

To meet the growing global need for Prevenar 13, Pfizer is increasing its manufacturing capabilities through a combination of capital investment, process improvements and efficiency measures throughout its supply network. Additionally, Pfizer is engaged in the development of a preserved, multi-dose vial which, subject to the required regulatory approval, WHO prequalification and AMC eligibility requirements, would provide an alternative option for developing world countries.

Prevenar 13 was first introduced for use in infants and young children in December 2009 in Europe and is now approved for such use in more than 120 countries worldwide. It is already the most widely used pneumococcal conjugate vaccine in the world, and more than 500 million doses of Prevenar/Prevenar 13 have already been distributed worldwide.

Currently, Prevenar 13 is included as part of a national immunization programme in more than 60 countries, offering coverage against invasive pneumococcal disease to more than 30 million children per year. Prevenar 13 is also approved for use in adults 50 years of age and older in more than 100 countries and is the first and only pneumococcal vaccine to be granted WHO prequalification in the adult population.

Pneumococcal disease is the disease we know as pneumonia responsible for the death of more than 800,000 children under 5 years of age - die every year from pneumococcal infections. Nearly all these deaths occur in the world's poorest countries Prevnar 13 should not be given to anyone with a history of severe allergic reaction to any component of Prevnar 13 or any diphtheria toxoid - containing vaccine.

"Children and adults with weakened immune systems (e.g., HIV infection, leukemia) may have a reduced immune response In adults, the common side effects were pain, redness, or swelling at the injection site; limitation of arm movement; fatigue; headache; muscle pain; joint pain; decreased appetite; chills or rash. In adults, immune responses to Prevnar 13 were reduced when given with injected seasonal flu vaccine.

"A temporary pause of breathing following vaccination has been observed in some infants born prematurely "The most commonly reported serious adverse events in children were bronchiolitis (an infection of the lungs) (0.9%), gastroenteritis (inflammation of the stomach and small intestine) (0.9%) and pneumonia (0.9%) "In infants and toddlers, the most common side effects were tenderness, redness or swelling at the injection site, irritability, decreased appetite, decreased or increased sleep and fever.

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