Paul Obi in Abuja
The federal government in conjunction with a leading pharmaceutical company, GSK, has pledged not to increase the price of pneumonia vaccines for the next 10 years but to rather freeze the price for improved vaccination.
The plan, according to the company, would ensure that children in the country do not die of the disease, which is now the number one killer disease amongst children under five.
This was made known at the launch of International Vaccines Access Centre’s (IVAC) preliminary findings which was on the occasion marking World Pneumonia Day in Abuja.
The findings estimated that about 750,000 Nigerian children died in 2015 and largely from diseases.
The report also indicated that “pneumonia is now the leading cause of child deaths in Nigeria, a position previously held by malaria over the years. In 2015, about 17 per cent (127,00 deaths) and 10 per cent (75,000) of all under-five deaths including neo-natal deaths were caused by pneumonia and diarrhea, respectively.”
Medical Director of GSK, Dr. Lana Odunuga, said GSK “has placed 10 years price freeze on pneumonia drugs as the country graduates from GAVI funds.”
He said: “I just want to emphasise that we need consistency in our programmes. We have done very well in our policy making, we have done very well in our coordination. So it is just consistency and once we are consistent, we will get there. We need to start from somewhere and we are on a journey, we will get there.
“We are supporting the immunisation programme, we are providing the vaccines that are used for the prevention of pneumonia in children.
“And one of the things I highlighted as part of our own support is actually to make sure that even at a time when Nigeria graduates from GAVI fund, which will eventually happen, Nigeria will still be able to access the vaccines at the same price at which they are getting it now.
“In addition to that we have also tried to make it possible to reduce the cost a child pays for vaccines in Nigeria by $1.”
Odunuga blamed the activities of Boko Haram for the high figures of the disease in the recent times, stressing that, the effect of disruption of infrastructure led to displacement of people.
The acting Executive Director, NPHCDA, Dr. Emmanuel Odu noted that” federal government in it’s reaction to address the high rate of death attributed to pneumonia among children in the country, government introduced the pentavalent vaccine.”
The Emir of Jiwa, Alhaji Musa Idris assured that traditional leaders will continue to mobilise their subjects towards eradicating pneumonia in the rural areas of the country.