The First Lady, Sia Nyama Koroma is to launch the Pneumococcal vaccination for children on 28th January, 2011 in Bo, Southern Sierra Leone.
Sierra Leone is the first country in Africa to introduce the Pneumococcal vaccination for children under one year old. If fully implemented it is expected to reduce child mortality. It is free of cost.
This is a new vaccination to be added to the routine immunization of the Ministry of Health and Sanitation (MoHS).
The Programme Manager for Child Health at the MoHS Reverend Dr Thomas Samba told Reporters in a conference yesterday that children Under 5 years of age and especially Under 2 years of age are most at risk of developing and dying from pneumococcal disease.
Speaking at the Sierra Leone Association of Journalist (SLAJ) Harry Yansaneh Memorial Hall, he added that Pneumonia is an infection of one or both lungs which is usually caused by bacteria, viruses, or fungi, adding that one-third of all children who develop pneumonia subsequently die from the infection.
Dr Samba noted that symptoms and signs of pneumonia includes fast breathing, cold, sneezing, sore throat, cough, and side pain which are then followed by a high fever, shaking chills, and a cough with sputum production.
Transmission of pneumonia he explained is through contact with people who are ill or who carry the bacteria in their throat, nose or mouth.
He further added that children and babies who develop pneumonia often do not have any specific signs of chest infection but develop fever, fast breathing, appear quite ill, and can be lethargic.
The Programme Manager for Child Health reiterated that the vaccine is given as one dose and is injected into the body which will stimulate the normal immune system to produce antibodies that are directed against the pneumococcal bacteria.
Dr Samba disclosed that the vaccine is safe and free of cost for all children adding that zero to eleven months old babies should be taken for marklate at the nearest health clinic.
Save the Children Country’s Representative Saffa Smart said that they have launched a campaign ‘No Child is born to die’ in the United Kingdom aimed at saving the lives of children.
By Abibatu Kamara