Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 17 September 2014

Aid brings pneumonia jab to Malawi

British aid is funding a pneumonia immunisation drive in Malawi

Millions of pounds of British foreign aid has been used to fund the latest immunisation drive in one of the world's poorest nations.

It means children in Malawi will be protected from the bacteria which causes pneumonia, which kills hundreds of thousands of children in developing nations every year.

The first child to be immunised received her jabs on Saturday at a street festival in the nation's capital city Lilongwe, for World Pneumonia Day.

Each dose of the new pneumococcal vaccine, PCV13, costs less than a cup of coffee.

It will be given to every child under the age of one in the east African nation from now on.

Secretary of State for International Development Andrew Mitchell said: "During the minute or so that it takes you to read this, Britain will have vaccinated at least 30 children against potentially fatal diseases.

"In June we committed to vaccinate a child every two seconds, as part of a global drive to save the lives of four million children in poor countries who are at risk of diseases such as pneumonia.

"Thanks to the NHS it is simply unthinkable that our children could die from pneumonia, diarrhoea or diphtheria. Yet this year these easily preventable diseases will claim the lives of more than one million children in the world's poorest countries."

Every year 67,000 children die in Malawi before they reach the age of five as a result of pneumonia, malaria or diarrhoea.

In June Britain pledged £814 million to the GAVI Alliance, a public-private global health partnership which brings together governments with the vaccine industry and philanthropists including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. It is the latest instalment to a pot of around £30 billion in foreign aid pledged by the UK over the past 30 years.

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