Unicef musters more financial aid to fight pneumonia

June 16th, 2009 - 9:15 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, June 16 (IANS) Several health partners under the leadership of the Unicef have signed a “global commitment” to fight pneumonia, a disease that kills around 800,000 children - half of them Indian - every year, by helping countries financially, the global health body said Tuesday.
The new financing agreement, called the Advance Market Commitment (AMC), is designed to accelerate access to new life-saving vaccines and medicines in developing countries.

“The introduction of pneumococcal vaccine in developing countries has the potential to give us the kind of dramatic progress we desperately need in the fight to reduce under-five mortality globally,” Unicef chief of health Peter Salama said in a statement issued in New York.

“But we have to go even further and take this opportunity to revitalise the whole package of services necessary to tackling pneumonia, such as providing treatment with antibiotics at the community level, ensuring high coverage of other vaccines such as HiB and measles, and promoting breastfeeding and hand-washing with soap,” Salama added.

Over the last 18 months, the GAVI Alliance, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, World Health Organisation, Unicef and the World Bank have been working alongside donors to ensure that the financing, legal and operational instruments serve the AMC objectives.

Unicef will be responsible for the procurement and international distribution of the new vaccines as they become available, and will be supporting governments at country level to help ensure the vaccines reach the children.

At least 19 percent of the total under-five mortality in India is due to pneumonia.

According to the a Unicef report, the illness claims the lives of 399,000 children in the country every year.

The AMC model will also have future applicability for the development of other new vaccines and commodities to help fight childhood diseases.

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