MYANMAR : Health officials are urging parents to cooperate in a program to protect infants from killer pneumonia and other diseases.
The Department of Public Health is planning to inject children throughout the country with pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PVC) starting next month.
Dr Than Tun Aung, deputy director general of the Department of Public Health, said the vaccine would be administered from July 1 to children aged two, four and six months as part of the routine vaccination program.
He said the program aimed to protect against pneumonia and was funded by the government with the help of GAVI-Vaccine Alliance.
Children will be injected with pentavalent vaccine – a five-in-one vaccine for diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, hepatitis B and haemophilus influenza type B – plus measles-rubella vaccine, inactivated polio vaccine and tuberculosis vaccine, as well as the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine.
Dr Win Lwin, public health director for Yangon Region, said health workers had been trained and the vaccine was ready.
“All children will receive the PVC vaccine starting July 1 in the routine program. Now we are preparing to add PVC to the program, and we have trained the staff concerned. We will inoculate all children of the appropriate age,” said Dr Win Lwin.
According to WHO statistics, more than 540,000 children throughout the world out of a global total of 8.8 million under-fives die of pneumococcal disease every year.
“Pneumococcal disease is one of the causes of the high death rate of under-fives. That’s why we will use PVC vaccine,” said Dr Win Lwin.
“I would advise parents not to worry too much when their child is vaccinated. Babies tend to cry,” he said.
“We want parents to support the vaccination program, because protection is important,” he added.
Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine has been prioritised as a new vaccine in the national immunisation program for 2015-16, according to the Ministry of Health and Sports.
The ministry has submitted a proposal for cost-sharing of the measles-rubella vaccine and PVC.
The estimated cost of five years of government co-financing for the two new vaccines is US$6,490,600.