ISLAMABAD: Pakistan is set to achieve a major landmark in preventive healthcare when Hib (Haemophilis Influenzae B) is introduced for infants this year, said Ministry of Health.The vaccine would be provided as part of the new Pentavalent vaccine which includes vaccine against diphtheria, Pertussis (whooping cough), tetanus, hepatitis B and Hib.
Introduction of the Hib vaccine which protects against pneumonia, one of the major killer diseases among children in the developing world, brings Pakistan at par with developed nations of the world who were providing this vaccine free of cost to their population. Pakistan would be the first major country in the region to provide the facility to a target population of over five million children each year. Sri Lanka is the only other country in the region to start Hib vaccination this year.
Launch of the Pentavalent vaccine, which includes Hib, has been possible as a result of generous support provided by the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI) with co-financing by Government of Pakistan. Pentavalent vaccine worth US$ 36.439 million has been provided for the year 2008 while US$ 68.635 million support shall be provided for the year 2009. The support is extendable till the year 2012.
“This is a major stride forward as the measure of introducing a vaccine with five antigens that would reduce the number of visits required by the parents for vaccination of a newborn besides bringing down the number of injections administered to a child,” said Secretary Health Khushnood Akhtar Lashari. The step would also improve the delivery of vaccination services as less time would be spent on vaccinating a child and lesser number of syringes required, he remarked.
The Expanded Program on Immunization after the inclusion of Hib vaccine would be providing protection to every new born child in Pakistan against eight deadly and debilitating diseases free of cost through over 10,000 rural health centers and basic health units besides mobile teams and government hospitals.-SANA