NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 2 – The government said on Monday that it would provide pneumonia vaccines at all public health centres early next year.
Speaking at celebrations to mark the inaugural World Pneumonia Day, Head of Division of Vaccination and Immunisation at the Medical Services Ministry Dr Tatu Kamau said the three pneumonia vaccines available in the country have previously only been accessible at private hospitals.
“It is too costly for the government to have the vaccines in our hospitals, but we hope in 2010 January we will discuss with donors to help us meet the costs,” she said.
Dr Kamau said the government required Sh2 billion every year to sustain the vaccination programme in public health centres.
She said the government had already set aside cold rooms, depots and considered other necessary requirements in readiness for the vaccine.
The health expert said children and older people were at risk of getting pneumonia and urged Kenyans to seek immunization against it.
But she said vaccination was not the only way of keeping it away and urged people to practice personal hygiene and seek treatment on time. People with chronic ailments should keep warm, eat well and seek vaccination, she advised.
Head of Division of Child and Adolescent at Public Health and Sanitation Ministry Dr Annah Wamae also appealed to parents with young babies to keep them warm especially during the ongoing rainy season.
“Bathe your babies when it is warm, or make the environment where you are bathing them warm before undressing them. You can also wipe them if it is too cold, keep their heads warm and feet because those are the areas that heat is most lost,” she advised.
The World Pneumonia Day was marked in 53 other countries on the globe, aimed at addressing the growing pneumonia infections and mortality rates in children.
According to UNICEF and World Health Organisation pneumonia kills more children than HIV/AIDS, measles and malaria combined.
The estimates further show the disease claims more than 5,500 children per day in developing countries alone.
“In addition to killing millions of children yearly, pneumonia causes severe financial difficulties, emotional burden for families and communities as well as contributes to the cycle of poverty,” said Senior Consultant Pediatrician Dr Mohan Lumba.
The statistics also revealed that of children outpatients, 65 percent suffer from respiratory complications with 25 percent being confirmed to be pneumonia. In Kenya only 18 percent are found to have pneumonia.
But with the arrival of rains, the experts said their was a higher risk.