Pakistan becomes first country to introduce typhoid conjugate vaccine

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By Muhammad Luqman

Pakistan has become the first country in the world to introduce typhoid conjugate vaccine (TCV) into its routine immunization programme through a campaign mode in Sindh.

The government of Pakistan is launching the vaccine with a campaign in Sindh province in a response to an outbreak of typhoid since November 2016,

The launching ceremony of the Typhoid vaccine introduction
was held in a local hotel in Karachi presided by Special Assistant to the Prime
Minister on Health Dr Zafar Mirza and Provincial Minister Health, Dr Azra Fazal
Pechuho jointly.

High officials from the Federal Ministry of National Health
Services, Regulations and Coordination and Provincial department including
Director General Health, National Program Manager EPI, National Coordinator
EOC, Director General Health, Sindh, Director, EPI, Sindh also participated.

While sharing his remarks at the launching ceremony, Dr
Zafar Mirza said “Children are disproportionately affected by typhoid and its
associated complications, and we strongly believe that TCV would protect our
children against potentially fatal disease of Typhoid, starting with Sindh
Province, where the need is most urgent, the government of Pakistan has planned
a phased national introduction strategy with strong, coordinated support from
global and local partners.

”In 2017, 63% of typhoid cases and 70% of typhoid deaths in
Pakistan were among children younger than 15 years of age.

To prevent these deaths, the phased introduction will begin
with a two-week campaign targeting 10.1 million children 9 months to 15 years
of age in more than 460 urban union councils of Sindh province with the funding
support from Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.

This will include 4.7 million children from Karachi.

As the campaign needs to reach older children, schools will
play a major role.

Following the campaign, the vaccine will be given to 9-month
old infants as part of routine immunization at EPI centers in all parts of the
province.

“Typhoid is a highly contagious disease that spreads more
quickly and easily when people live in crowded neighborhoods with weak water
and sanitation infrastructure.

Beginning the vaccination in urban areas is critical in
preventing the disease among the communities most at risk,” said Dr Azra Fazal
Pechuho, Provincial Minister of Sindh for Health, and Population Welfare.

Prevention through vaccination is one of the most effective
interventions to reduce typhoid infections.

The TCV campaign will be conducted from 18th to 30th
November in Sindh and will be followed by TCV being a part of the Routine
Immunization Programme in December.

The government is also promoting WASH solutions (water,
sanitation and hygiene) alongside TCV introduction.

TCV is a one-dose vaccine, injected intramuscularly, that is
lower cost, has higher efficacy, and is expected to provide long lasting
immunity in adults, children, and infants older than 9 months of age.

UNICEF Representative in Pakistan Aida Girma said “We
applaud the Government of Pakistan for prioritizing immunization of children at
risk of typhoid”.

“Their phased national introduction plan for TCV will ensure
that the vaccine will reach the children most at risk first.

” “Before the discovery of antibiotics, typhoid would kill
as many as one in five people who contracted it,” said Dr Seth Berkley, CEO of
Gavi.

“The rise of extreme drug resistant typhoid risks bringing
us back to levels of mortality not seen since the 19th century, posing a risk
to all of us.

That’s why typhoid conjugate vaccine is so important and why
the government of Pakistan deserves praise for being the first to introduce
this lifesaver into its routine immunization programme.

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