Yemen's Pneumococcal Vaccine Rollout
Yemen's Pneumococcal Vaccine Rollout
Coverage of the pneumococcal vaccine introduction into Yemen's national immunisation programme, targeting pneumonia, the biggest killer of children in the country, accounting for approximately 20% of child deaths.
February 1, 2011
Photo Credit: Doune Porter/GAVI/2011 Following the launch of pneumococcal vaccines in Yemen in January, parents flocked to protect their children against the leading cause of pneumonia, the biggest killer of children in the country, accounting for approximately 20% of child deaths. Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Mujawr said the vaccine launch marked “A quantum leap in combating disease and death in Yemen and towards achieving Millenium Development Goal 4 on reduction of child mortality.”
Photo Credit: Doune Porter/GAVI/2011 In vaccination centres across the country, strict records are kept of all vaccinations. At the busy Zahrawi medical center in Sana’a, the launch of the pneumococcal vaccine has meant their usual 500 vaccinations per day have jumped to around 700. With GAVI’s support, Yemen is the first country in the Eastern Mediterranean region to have introduced pneumococcal vaccines as part of its routine immunization programme.
Photo Credit: Doune Porter/GAVI/2011 At the Al-Sabeen Hospital for Maternal and Child Health in Sana’a, one year-old Mohamad Ahmed has pneumonia and struggles for breath, but he’s getting better. His mother, Fatima, has already lost three children; to pneumonia, acute respiratory infection, and diarrhoea. “I was very afraid for him because of what happened before,” she says, “If I have another child, I will make sure he or she gets the new vaccine.”
Photo Credit: Doune Porter/GAVI/2011 Doctors have stabilised two and a half-year-old Nashtan Gamal in the emergency room at the Al-Sabeen Hospital. They think she may have meningitis, which is often fatal, and can leave survivors permanently disabled. Most cases of meningitis at the hospital are caused by the bacteria streptococcus pneumoniae, also the leading cause of pneumonia. The new pneumococcal vaccines will protect children against this type of meningitis as well as pneumonia.
Photo Credit: Doune Porter/GAVI/2011 Abdulla lives 30 kilometers from the nearest health centre and was too busy to take his son Ahmad for vaccination as a baby. Ahmad’s mother, who is illiterate, did not dare travel alone. Ahmad, now four, is recovering in hospital from pneumonia. Ali Abdulla, who has already lost six children, says if they have another child, the baby will be vaccinated no matter how far they have to go.
Photo Credit: Doune Porter/GAVI/2011 Jamila, a volunteer health worker, educates village women at her home in the remote village of Bani Mareh about the signs of pneumonia and what action to take if their babies get sick. She stresses the importance of vaccination. Several of the women in the group have lost children to preventable and treatable diseases such as pneumonia and diarrhoea.
Photo Credit: Doune Porter/GAVI/2011 Keeping vaccines at the correct temperature requires stringent management of the cold chain vaccine storage system; helping to fund its maintenance is one of the ways in which GAVI supports Yemen’s vaccine programme. Vaccines are stored in 3,000 refrigerators around the country, and every governorate has an engineer to repair them. With Yemen’s long coastline, the moist, salty air causes the refrigerators to rust, giving vaccine managers an extra problem.
Photo Credit: Doune Porter/GAVI/2011 A mother walks for over an hour with her sick baby, bringing her to the Al Aghmour health center. There are no roads here; the health center is accessible only by four wheel-drive vehicle or on foot. Only half of Yemen’s population of more than 23 million is currently served by a health facility, and with such limited access to health care, preventing disease where possible is especially important.
Photo Credit: Doune Porter/GAVI/2011 Vaccination session at the health unit in Bait Numeer, south-east of Sana’a. Yemen’s Ministry of Health launched a major campaign to inform parents about pneumococcal vaccines.“We wanted to create momentum, so people would understand how necessary it is to have their babies vaccinated,” said Dr. Magid Al Gunaid, Deputy Minister for Primary Health Care. “It was important to get the vaccine to every single health facility before the launch.”
Photo Credit: Doune Porter/GAVI/2011 GAVI has contributed approximately US$60 million in vaccine support to Yemen over the past ten years. From December 2010 to April 2011, with GAVI support, Nicaragua, Guyana, Sierra Leone, Kenya and the DR Congo have also rolled out pneumococcal vaccines. With sufficient funding, GAVI aims to roll out pneumococcal vaccines and vaccines against rotavirus, the leading cause of severe infant diarrhoea, in more than 40 countries by 2015.