Latest News Editor's Choice

News / National

Govt introduces two new vaccines for children aged five

by Staff reporter
28 May 2012 at 08:24hrs | Views
THE Ministry of Health and Child Welfare has introduced two new vaccines for children aged five years and under to reduce child mortality due to pneumonia and diarrhoea.

In an interview last week, the head of epidemiology and disease control in the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare, Dr Portia Manangazira, said the new pneumococcal and rotavirus vaccines would soon be slotted into the vaccination schedule.

She said her ministry had introduced the additional vaccines because the two ailments were increasing the country's infant mortality rate.

"The Ministry of Health has introduced two more vaccines, which would be slotted into the vaccination schedule that we are currently using. We noted that several children were dying due to bacterial infections that affect the lungs and eventually cause pneumonia," said Dr Manangazira.

"We also realised that children under the age of five make up about 60 percent of people who die in the country every year due to diseases related to diarrhoea."

Dr Manangazira said the pneumococcal vaccine, which will be used to protect children against pneumonia, would be introduced next month while the rotavirus vaccine would be introduced next year.

"The pneumococcal vaccine will be initiated in June while we will start using the rotavirus next year. We are not removing any vaccines from the current schedule but we are slotting in the two new ones.

"New born babies will be vaccinated against tuberculosis as usual but instead of coming back to the clinic for vaccination after three months, they will now have to come back after six weeks, then 10 weeks and 14 weeks. They will receive their 18 months booster as usual," said Dr Manangazira.

She said the Ministry of Health was trying to move towards that Millennium Development Goals of  reducing by two-thirds, between 1990 and 2015, the under-five mortality rate.

"We are attempting to work towards the MDGs and the introduction of the new vaccines will go a long way in reducing child mortality in the country."

In July last year about 13 children died at Mpilo Central Hospital in Bulawayo after a diarrhoea outbreak caused by rotavirus, while 35 cases of diarrhoea, all of them involving children were reported at Gweru Provincial Hospital.

A number of children also died in Harare, Gweru and Masvingo. Last year the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare, Dr Gerald Gwinji, said at least 500 000 children die worldwide from diarrhoeal diseases caused by the rotavirus.

He said the country was collecting statistics to determine the most effective vaccine to use.

Neighbouring South Africa and Mozambique reportedly have an annual rotavirus vaccination programme for children under five years.

Source - SM