Pakistan introduces vaccine to protect millions of children

November 1st, 2008 - 3:35 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Nov 1 (IANS) Pakistan is introducing a vaccine that will protect children against the bacterium Haemophilus influenzae type b or Hib and four other common childhood diseases. Hib, that can cause deadly meningitis and pneumonia, is one of the top killers of young children in the developing world. Globally, over 1,000 children under five die from Hib-related diseases daily.

Survivors are often permanently disabled - paralysed, deafened or brain damaged - according to a statement of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, which is associated with the Pakistani project.

Besides, two million children die from pneumonia every year, making it the top child killer worldwide. In Pakistan alone, about 92,000 children die of the infection, according to Unicef and WHO.

Hib vaccine will be administered through a single-shot called the pentavalent vaccine that protects against four other deadly diseases: diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, and hepatitis B.

“The decision to introduce Hib-containing pentavalent vaccine will protect millions of infants against some of the most dangerous childhood infections, including one of the major causes of pneumonia and meningitis,” said Rana Hajjeh, director of Hib Initiative.

The Hib Initiative unites experts from Johns Hopkins, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, World Health Organisation, and the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

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