By Dipo Olowookere
To mark the World Pneumonia Day, civil society organizations from Africa and Haiti are asking their governments to step-up to eradicate pneumonia which is responsible for more child mortalities than any other diseases like AIDS, Malaria and Measles combined.
Speaking at a conference on how to end pneumonia in Africa, President of ONG AGIS, Mr Aboubakar SYLLA, said that “Despite the efforts that have been made so far, much more work still needs to be done, particularly in poor communities. Every child, regardless of where they were born, need to access life-saving vaccines and medicines.”
The most affected children live in poor and rural communities in many African countries. These are areas that often lack access to vaccines and other prevention and treatment tools.
Today, 1 million children’s lives could be saved with more prevention and treatment interventions. Unfortunately, the vaccine against pneumonia is the most expensive, making it’s sustainability a great challenge for countries that are transitioning from GAVI’s support.
Also, many people are still not aware of its overwhelming death-toll, and this has led its prioritization to be overshadowed on the global health agenda. It also gets very little attention in the media.
It is therefore important for African governments to allocate more finances for immunization and broaden vaccines access within their countries during routine vaccination campaigns, for the disease to be eliminated.
Pneumonia can be easily prevented using vaccines and treated with medicine. There is evidence of commendable progress towards its elimination such as the drop in annual deaths from 1.7 million to an estimated 920,000 between 2000 and 2015.
African governments need to honour their commitments to Immunization and shape the vaccine market to ensure sustainability for the pneumonia vaccine.
To ensure that governments stick to their commitments, the civil society organizations are amplifying their voices for (a) more financial investment for Immunization by governments, (b) scale-up of vaccination campaigns to reach the most remote locations and (c) for more community sensitization to demand for immunization services from their leaders during this key campaign date of the 33 Days to Power Up Immunization.”
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