By Robert Tapfumaneyi
To address the problem of pneumonia in children and contribute towards achieving millennium development goal four, the government of Zimbabwe, with support from the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation, has introduced a new vaccine.
Speaking at the launch of the vaccine, known as PVC13 [13-valent pneumococcal conjugat], the Deputy Minister of Health and Child Welfare, Dr Douglas Mombeshora, said children can be protected from pneumonia through exclusive breast feeding for the first six months, good nutrition and vaccinations.
“I urge all parents and care givers to take their children for vaccination on time and seek early treatment when ill. Inappropriate feeding accounts for malnutrition and contributes considerably in morbidity and mortality in under-five children,” said Dr Mombeshora.
Dr Mombeshora added: “Optimal infant and young child nutrition is key to child survival, yet we realize that malnutrition is one of the major causes of underlying causes of death in children.”
World Health Organisation Country Representative, Dr Custodia Mandlante, said vaccinations are one of the most cost effective child survival interventions.
Zimbabwe has been implementing a successful Expanded Program on Immunisation (EPI) since independence. Its current prevention of childhood vaccine- preventable diseases programme includes vaccinations for tuberculosis, measles, poliomyelitis and diphtheria.
“Zimbabwe is polio free since more than a decade and at a certain point we have achieved elimination indicators for tetanus and measles, but we also know that we need to go and extra mile to reduce mortality and morbidity due to vaccine preventable diseases, “ said Dr Mandlante.
The Zimbabwean government has been making efforts to improve child survival following the African Summit on Maternal and Child Healthy 2010 where it pledges to take actions to improve child survival, growth and development in the country.
Child health is also at the core of the MDGs