Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Rwanda Combats Pneumonia in Children through Bottom-Up Approach

Today, pneumonia is a leading cause of death in children worldwide, claiming nearly 2 million children under the age of five per year. In Rwanda, the combined commitment of international organizations, health care professionals, and families has led to a decrease in the tragic effects of this widespread condition, due to the introduction of a pneumococcal conjugate vaccine called PCV7.

The vaccine was first introduced in Rwanda in April of 2009 through support from UNICEF and the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations (GAVI). It helps prevent pneumococcal disease, which is the leading cause of pneumonia itself. Rwanda is the first low-income country to incorporate PCV7 into its routine immunization program.

The success of PCV7 in helping prevent pneumonia thus far is largely due to the community health education that has accompanied introduction of the vaccine. Local officials stress the importance of spreading information about nutrition, family planning, and hygiene, in addition to administering the vaccine itself.

-Elizabeth Newton