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New pneumococcal vaccines tailored for the needs of children in developing countries

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Every year, the bacterium known as Streptococcus pneumonia, or pneumococcal disease, kills more than 500,000 children, most of them in the poorest countries of sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. This massive death toll makes it impossible to significantly improve child survival without introducing new tools to prevent the primary cause of the deadliest forms of pneumonia and meningitis throughout the developing world.

On Monday, 14 February in Nairobi, the President of Kenya will host an event at 10 am local time to celebrate the global roll-out of cutting-edge new vaccines against pneumococcal disease—a process that is beginning with the introduction in Kenya and four other developing countries, of the most advanced technologies ever brought to bear on the world's deadliest cause of pneumonia and meningitis.

Ahead of marking this major milestone in global health, the GAVI Alliance would like to invite you to join an interactive webcast media briefing on Friday, 11 February, with GAVI CEO Helen Evans and Dr. Orin Levine, a researcher with the Johns Hopkins University and one of the world's top experts on pneumococcal vaccines. They will be joined by Dr. Tom Mboya, Ambassador/Permanent Representative to the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Kenya, who is also a former high-level official in the Kenyan Ministry of Health.

When: Friday, 11 February, 13:00 GMT (14:00 – Geneva time)

How: To join, simply click on this link to register:

http://www.apo-opa.org/en/application?vc=GAVI

The new pneumococcal vaccines that are being introduced have been specially tailored for the needs of children in developing countries because they cover the strains or “serotypes” of pneumococcal disease that are the most prevalent in vulnerable regions.

By rapidly scaling up the roll-out of the pneumococcal vaccine to more than 40 countries, including Kenya, GAVI and its partners can avert approximately 700,000 deaths by 2015 and up to seven million deaths by 2030.

The introduction of the pneumococcal vaccine, starting with the first five GAVI nations, represents a significant benchmark in fulfilling GAVI's promise to speed up the time it takes to introduce new vaccines in the regions that suffer the greatest burden of disease.

In The Lancet's 2009 study, Burden of disease caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae in children younger than 5 years, the authors note that “prevention of pneumococcal disease and death is achievable only if efforts to deliver and implement prevention in regions with the greatest burden of disease are successful.” According to this and other recent research on the impact of infectious disease on child survival, nations that fail to introduce new technologies such as the pneumococcal vaccine cannot hope to attain a significant reduction in deaths among children—the objective of Millennium Development Goal 4 http://www.who.int/nuvi/pneumococcus/GBD_pneumococcus.pdf_

Detailed information around pneumococcal disease and vaccine is available at http://www.gavialliance.org/vision/policies/new_vaccines/pneumococcal/index.php

We will also issue a press release on Friday 11 February. It will be posted at http://www.gavialliance.org/media_centre/press_releases/index.php

We very much hope you will be able to cover the story and encourage you to join this webcast pre-briefing.

For further information please contact Dan Thomas ([email protected] | tel: +41 22 909 6524 | mobile: +41 79 251 8581).

Distributed by the African Press Organization on behalf of GAVI alliance