Kenyan children will be vaccinated against pneumonia and meningitis from next year. Dr Issac Mugoya, the deputy head of the Division of Vaccines and Immunisation in the Ministry of Public health said funding had been secured for the project. The Global Alliance of Vaccination Initiatives (Gavi) has pledged to buy the pneumococcal vaccine from manufacturers at $5 (Sh375) per dose, with the division paying 15 cents of each dollar spent. Although the vaccine has been available since 2000, the $50 (Sh3,750) per dose made it unaffordable. Successful vaccination requires three doses.
The division is targeting 1.5 million children aged a year and under in the programme, at a cost of Sh56 million per year during the five-year initiative, said Dr Mugoya at Monday’s briefing, prior to the International Symposium on Pneumococci and Pneumococcal Diseases later this week. Pneumonia, a respiratory illness, is the most common disease caused by the pneumococci bacteria. It kills one in every 10 children who die before the age of five. Twenty per cent of the 175,000 infant deaths in Kenya are caused by pneumonia, according to a recent joint report by the Government and the United Nations Children Fund. Pneumonia can also lead to other diseases such as meningitis and infections of the upper respiratory tract. However, it can be prevented by improved nutrition and reduction of other risk factors such as prevention and treatment of HIV. Meningitis is an infectious disease characterised by inflammation of the protective membranes covering the brain and the spinal cord, known as the meninges.