By; MATTHEW UKACHUNWA, Lagos.
As Pneumonia, an acute infection of the lungs, remains the biggest killer of children worldwide, healthcare providers have voiced the need to focus on vaccination of children and the vulnerable group.
They also want to ascertain what governments are doing to make the expensive medicine for the disease affordable.
“I also want us to consider a segment of the population almost forgotten – people living with Sickle Cell disease especially in Nigeria that once again has the highest prevalence,” wrote Margret Olell, Pfizer’s Corporate Affairs Director for Nigeria, Ghana and East Africa.
“PVC vaccine,” Olele continued, “can help them reduce episodes of pneumococcal diseases and make them navigate through life a bit more optimistic and more upbeat.”
According to World Health Organization, (WHO), in 2015 pneumonia killed nearly one million children under the age of five, accounting for 15 per cent of all worldwide deaths of children of that age group.
The disease remains the prevalent in some of the poorest regions in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia in part because of the high price of the vaccines necessary to prevent it, according to a WHO report.
One dose of Pneumonia vaccine costs about 68 US Dollars, and it is 204 US Dollars for the three doses needed to vaccinate one child, the report disclosed.
Healthcare providers and other groups such as Medecins sans frontiers (MSF) or Doctors Without Borders, an international medical group that provides assistance to population in emergency situations have long complained about what they claim are “artificially high prices” of pneumonia vaccines, among other medicines.
They are concerned about being able to afford three drugs to help prevent the disease in poor countries.
The Report of the United Nations Secretary-General’s High Level Panel on Access to Medicines, Promoting Innovation and Access to Health Technologies, released in September 2016 called on governments to reduce the cost of health technologies for rich and poor countries alike..
“No one should suffer because they cannot afford medicines, diagnostics, medical devices or vaccines,” said the UN chief.
“With no market incentives, there is an innovation gap in diseases that predominantly affect neglected populations,” malebona Preciuos Matsoso, health expert said.