Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar, 6 November 2012: In a landmark move to improve child health, Myanmar’s Ministry of Health today officially introduced a new vaccine to protect children against five potentially life-threatening diseases. Introduction of the Penta valent vaccine marks a milestone in Myanmar’s child immunization. It was announced in a ceremony hosted by the Ministry of Health with WHO and UNICEF.
The inaugural of the Penta valent vaccine was presided by the Minister of Health H. E. Dr. Phe Thet Khin. WHO Representative Dr. Herbert Tennakoon and UNICEF Myanmar Chief of Health Dr. Marinus Gotink and Mr. Dagfinn Hoybraten, Chairman of the Board for GAVI, also spoke at the event.
The introduction of the new vaccine records an important stride in terms of Myanmar Government’s commitment to combat vaccine preventable diseases through co-financing of the vaccines to the amount of US$ 5 million over the next 5 years.
By combining Diphtheria, Pertussis, Tetanus, Hepatitis B and Hib vaccines, Penta valent helps prevent five infections more effectively among children under five years of age. The Haemophilus influenzae type b vaccine is an important addition to strengthen routine immunization and to improve child health. Children of Myanmar would now be protected against by five antigens with a single shot during routine immunization.
This will not only have a positive impact on child health, but would also save families the costs for health care; also save time and labour of health workers that can contribute to more effective and systematic management of the Myanmar immunization programme.
Penta valent vaccine is made available to the children of Myanmar with the support of GAVI Alliance, a Geneva-based public-private partnership that helps improve health in the world’s poorest countries. The introduction of new vaccine is through the partnership between the Government of Myanmar, WHO, UNICEF and the GAVI Alliance and other partners and civil society.
Myanmar now joins the list of 179 countries where Haemophilus influenzae type b has become part of national immunization schedules. Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) remains a leading cause of childhood bacterial meningitis and pneumonia, and can cause other serious infections for which children aged between 4 to 18 months are most at risk.