Vaccines will lead the way to reducing pneumonia deaths

UntitledThe International Vaccine Access Center (IVAC) at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health released today its 2013 Pneumonia and Diarrhoea Progress Report, which found gradual increases in access to vaccines, treatment, and other interventions in the 15 countries with the highest numbers of child deaths from pneumonia and diarrhea. The report found that seven countries achieved some progress toward the Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Pneumonia and Diarrhoea (GAPPD) targets, while eight countries had not made significant progress toward reaching targets.

Global health advocates today commemorate the fifth annual World Pneumonia Day by calling on global leaders to scale up existing interventions and invest in new diagnostics and treatments to defeat pneumonia. Today is marked by an integrated effort to combat both pneumonia and diarrhea, which together account for 26 percent of all child deaths globally.

“On World Pneumonia Day, I call on governments and their partners to commit to promoting breastfeeding and providing clean water, a healthy environment, and all the medicine and vaccinations children need. By working to protect children from pneumonia, we can shield them from other deadly diseases and help them to survive and thrive,” said United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

Keeping Vaccines on Ice in Haiti

You might see a lot about vaccines here, but you may not know that many have to be kept cold in order to remain effective and safe. That poses a challenge when they are transported across unpaved roads and stored in countries with poor energy resources. Keeping vaccines cold is so important that it is driving some neat ideas and innovations. This video shows how UNICEF is taking on the challenge in Haiti.

Give it a look.

Rwanda’s Bold Steps to Take on Cancer

By Deputy Editor Tom Murphy. The following post is written in conjunction with PRI The World’s series on cancer. Go here to learn more.

A recent WHO assessment of Rwanda’s capacity to address non-communicable diseases (NCDs) found that country failed on every measure. Except for having a branch in the Ministry of Health that addresses NCDs. In between the lines of the assessment, and captured within the Ministry of Health, is a major push by Rwanda to take on cancer.

The Rwandan Ministry of Health is implementing preventative structures to reduce the incidence of cancer. For women, that means improving access to breast cancer screenings and a national HPV plan. Cancer is responsible for 5% of deaths in Rwanda each year. As a point of comparison, cancer is accounts for 23% of all deaths in the United States.

Celebrating UN Day

Today marks the anniversary of the ratification of the UN Charter. On October 24, 1945 the five permanent members and the majority of the 46 member countries established the UN. The first meeting took place in January of 1946 in London before the UN took up residence in Lake Success, New York until 1952. When the UN headquarters were completed on the east side of Manhattan, the UN moved to its current home.

The UN Charter, signed in June of 1945, sets forth the principles for the United Nations. It reflects the lessons learned from the two great wars and the human rights atrocities committed during World War II.

We the peoples of the United Nations determined to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind, and to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small, and to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained, and to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom…

The agencies created by the UN, like the WHO, WFP, UNICEF and UNHCR, play a role in supporting the development of nations and the safety of people around the world. The following infographic provides a sampling of the many things that the UN does today.

The Challenge to Eradicate Polio in Nigeria

A ban on immunizations by Muslim leaders shoulders some of the blame, but changing attitudes mean that more children are receiving immunizations in the north. NPR reports:

Ibrahim insists that his son was immunized for polio at least once, but the child should have received multiple vaccinations for full protection.

In the past few years, religious leaders in this region have gone from opposing vaccination to requiring it. “We have to force you to do it, whether you like it or you don’t like it,” says Wada Mohamed Aliyu, the polio point man for the emir of Kano state, the region’s top-ranking Muslim

Community-Based Activities to Improve Child Survival in Benin

By Paula Agebemavo, Public Relations Coordinator, PSI affiliate ABMS (Association Beninoise pour le Marketing Social)

Out of every 1,000 live births in Benin, 68 infants die before age 1, and 125 infants die before reaching the age of 5 (EDS 2006). Around 70% of infant deaths, due to diarrhea, pneumonia, or malaria, occur in households or within local communities. This is due mainly in part to a lack of access to health centers and/or the preference of the population to use medicinal plants for treatment, as opposed to modern care. To reinforce its interventions in child survival, the IMPACT/USAID project, in collaboration with the Mother and Child Unit of the Ministry of Health, UNICEF and AFRICARE, financed three training sessions from April 2nd through May 5th 2012. These sessions reached out to 142 community workers from 71 villages in one of Benin’s most critical health zones. The training included discussions and material on malaria, pneumonia, diarrhea treatment, preventive inoculation, promotion of essential family health practices, pregnancy and delivery, and baby monitoring.

Furthermore, the project reinforced the capacity of 79 health professionals and 46 health assistants in an effort to increase the skills and knowledge of community workers on the implementation of the community-based activities as related to child survival. In the Avrankou-Akpro-Missérété health zone, only 42 out of around 100 villages benefited from malaria and diarrhea treatment. Following the training, an integrated management for infant diseases was launched on June 6th throughout all the villages during which equipment and medicines for treatment of malaria, pneumonia, diarrhea, fever, and cough were distributed by UNICEF. This intervention was an important step in the progression of one of the greatest challenges for the Ministry of Health, which is to increase, among other interventions, the integrated management of infant diseases at a national level.

Robert Steinglass: “Vaccines Do Not Deliver Themselves”

The following post is by Robert Steinglass,  Immunization Senior Advisor, John Snow Inc. and Immunization Team Leader, USAID’s Maternal and Child Health Integrated Program (MCHIP).

In recent years, the world of immunization has been dominated by a focus on life-saving vaccines and the prevention of individual diseases.   The global community has launched what is being called the “Decade of Vaccines.”  Not a week goes by without a major medical journal publishing articles with exciting news on the development, efficacy, value, supply, and financing of new vaccines.

Last month, the World Health Assembly (WHA) meeting in Geneva roundly endorsed a new Global Vaccine Action Plan.  The WHA also declared a public health emergency to complete the eradication of polio, now 12 years past its original target date of 2000.  Elimination of measles is a goal in five of six World Health Organization (WHO) regions and global measles eradication is being increasingly proposed.

Relatively lost in all the excitement is recognition that vaccines do not deliver themselves.  A robust vaccination program functioning within the health system is required to achieve and sustain our ambitious goals.  If we want to eliminate and eradicate disease, smoothly introduce new vaccines across an expanded life cycle, increase vaccination coverage among all target groups to close the equity gap, reduce mortality to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015, and sustain those gains beyond 2015, the global community must recognize that the fundamental platform – the vaccination program itself – must be better supported and reinforced.

Preventing 7.6 Million Avoidable Child Deaths

An estimated 7.6 children die each year of preventable causes. Global partners are making a push to ensure that every child has the opportunity to make it past the vital threshold of his/her fifth birthday. To Dagfinn Høybråten, the vice president of the Norwegian Parliament and chairman of GAVI Alliance board, vaccines are important tool to ending unnecessary deaths.

Further, he highlights the upcoming Child Survival Call to Action meeting that will involve global health leaders like Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah and include health ministers of India and Ethiopia.

Read his thoughts and optimism in The Hill Blog:

Pneumonia caused by pneumococcal disease and diarrhea caused by rotavirus are two of the biggest killers of children. Almost 50 countries will introduce the pneumococcal and rotavirus vaccines by 2015. This will allow us to deliver on the promise made to donors to reach as many people in the developing world as possible with vaccines. Working with partners including UNICEF, the World Health Organization and the World Bank, our goal is to vaccinate an additional quarter billion children in the next four years.  Countries are also key partners as GAVI support is not a handout. Countries that apply for and receive GAVI funding must also pay a portion of the costs to provide new vaccines.

Routine Vaccination Solutions for Nigeria

Nigeria is home one out of every eight child deaths worldwide. Routine vaccinations save lives and money. The Decade of Vacines Economics projects 90% vaccine coverage against Hib, pneumococcal disease, rotavirus, measles and pertussis can save 600,000 lives and $17 billion in Nigeria over the next 10 years.

A new report by the International Vaccine Access Center (IVAC) at Johns Hopkins University identifies the challenges and solutions to increasing routine vaccinations in Nigeria. “Nigeria’s advantages are its resources. It has a strong concentration of human resources with its middle class and economy,” said Dr Orin Levine, IAVC Executive Director and study co-author.

The study, Landscape Analysis of Routine Immunization in Nigeria, was a collaborative effort between the IVAC, the government of Nigeria and Solina Health. The researchers interviewed stakeholders in 8 Nigerian states. All involved in the vaccine process, from individual mothers to national government officials, were interviewed. “The results are Nigerian solutions for challenges to routine immunizations in Nigeria,” said Dr. Levine.

Based on the interviews, the report identifies supply, human resource and demand solutions to increasing vaccination access. For example, transportation presents a challenge at nearly every level. Distance from health services is a documented challenge in Nigeria. A 2008 survey found that 36% of Nigerian women said the distance from a health facility was an impediment to accessing medical care.