A group of leading global health experts have made a joint call to vaccine manufacturers and international donors to negotiate affordable prices of pneumococcal vaccines for governments of developing countries and their partners, reports BDNEWS.
They also urged introduction of pneumococcal vaccine.
The experts believe that urgent action to introduce routine childhood pneumococcal vaccination is needed because of the enormous burden of the disease. This calls for disease surveillance networks.
World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates about 1.6 million people including up to one million children under five years of age, die every year of pneumococcal pneumonia, meningitis and sepsis.
In populations with high child mortality rates, pneumonia is the leading infectious cause of mortality and accounts for about 20 per cent to 25 per cent of all child deaths.
This seems to be the latest step in major changes over the last five years in the financing of immunisation, including the creation of the GAVI (Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation) Alliance Fund.
Orin Levine, the lead author of an article published in a health magazine The Lancet and executive director of PneumoADIP - a non-government organisation that aims to shorten the time between use of a vaccine in industrialised nations and their introduction in the developing world - commented: "We hope with such mechanisms in place, all developing countries will begin to consider that millions of children can now be saved by the simple addition of this vaccine to existing immunisation programmes."
Thomas Cherian, co-ordinator of Ad Interim, EPI, WHO, and co-author of the article, added: "Pneumococcal disease is a major global health issue; what is promising is that a 'seven-valent' vaccine that is effective against seven common strains of the disease is already licensed and in use in over 60 countries and that formulations containing additional serotypes of the organism that are also relevant for developing countries are under development."
"The WHO considers pneumococcal vaccines to be a priority and recognises the urgency to make these vaccines available for children in developing countries."
Introducing the seven-valent vaccine now means that lives can start to be saved straightway. This vaccine, manufactured by Wyeth, is effective, well-tolerated and can be delivered through existing immunisation systems.
Surveillance data from the USA indicate that the immunity effect from routine childhood pneumococcal vaccination prevents twice as many cases as the direct effects of vaccination alone - protecting vulnerable adults as well as children.
Responding to The Lancet, Julian Lob-Levyt, executive secretary, GAVI Alliance, said, "There is convincing evidence of the benefits of vaccines for major child killers especially when such a simple health intervention could help in meeting UN Millennium Development Goal no. 4: to reduce child mortality by two-thirds by 2015."
"GAVI will be looking closely at how best to assist countries where pneumococcal disease represents a significant burden on public health."