March 26, 2005
A four year study of a pneumococcal vaccine in the Gambia, published today's The Lancet (free registration), finds that the vaccine reduced childhood mortality by 16 percent in children who received the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine. Dr. Lee Jong-wook, the Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) said:
"The results of this vaccine trial hold great promise for improving health and saving lives in resource-poor populations.The international community's task now is to continue to work together productively to make the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine widely available to children in Africa, as lives are lost every minute to pneumococcal disease. Immunizing children with pneumococcal conjugate vaccine in developing countries will be a critical intervention towards achieving a two-thirds reduction in the under-five mortality rate, a Millennium Development Goal."For more information, take a look at the preventPNEUMO adip website.Owen's comment: the big question now is whether the international community will find a way to put enough money into these vaccines, with enough certainty, to enable large scale production and access to these vaccines across the developing world. It would be tragic if we have to wait 15 years before these are widely available, as we have with Hib and Hepatitis B.
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