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Minister Introduces Free Vaccine Against Pneumonia, Meningitis 

By Marceline Chick, Sixtus Mbom & Walter Wilson Nana

Government has announced the introduction of a vaccine against pneumococcal infections in the Expanded Programme of Immunisation in the Ministry of Public Health.

 Minister Fouda (M), combating pneumonia and meningitis

The Minister of Public Health, Andre Mama Fouda, made the revelation in a press conference in Yaounde on June 28. The minister said the new vaccine introduced shall be effective from the July 1. He explained that pneumonia and meningitis are caused by a pneumococcal germ, whose infections either kill young children or leave them seriously handicapped.

Cameroonian children from the ages of 0 11 months, will from July 1, 2011, begin receiving free anti-pneumococcal vaccine that protects children against pneumonia and meningitis. The aforementioned diseases, caused by pneumococcal germ, either kill young children or leave them seriously handicapped. As part of the promotion of health in Cameroon, Mama Fouda has exhorted Cameroonian parents to get their children vaccinated in all health centres and hospitals.

Addressing journalists and traditional broadcasters in the Southwest Region, in the build-up to the July 1 launch, Southwest Regional Delegate of Public Health, Dr. John Chuwanga, said the introduction of Pneumo-Vaccine – PVC-13 is intended to promote better health for all Cameroonians and the African continent in general.

"The Governor of the Southwest Region will be doing the regional launch on July 1 at the Bokwaongo Health District, as an indication and clarion call for all Cameroonians to protect our children from contacting the diseases," he said.

Thaddeus Chick, Social Mobiliser at the Southwest Regional Delegation of Public Health, reassured that there are enough vaccines to all the children in the required age bracket in the Region. "These vaccines are meant to develop immunity for the children against streptococcal pneumonia and meningitis," he explained.

A statement from the Ministry of Public Health noted that diseases caused by pneumococcal germ constitute a public health problem all over the world. "Pneumonia, otitis and meningitis, caused by pneumococcal germ, are more frequent in children between ten months and three years," the statement continued.

In Cameroon, there is a surveillance site for bacterial meningitis in the Mother and Child Centre of the Chantal Biya Foundation, located in the Yaounde Central Hospital. Supported by WHO, in the framework of the infections surveillance network in African region, the centre became fully functional in 2003 and collects meningitis suspected cases in children between two months and five years.

With pneumococcal infections now a public health problem in Cameroon, the Ministry of Public Health has found it necessary to introduce the Pneumo-Vaccine – PVC-13 against these infections. Hence, whatever the antigen (vaccine), the person vaccinated will be protected if he or she has received all required doses.

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