One child dies every 30 seconds around the world due to pneumococcal diseases. According to the results of a study, the level of awareness of these diseases is only two percent.

Pneumococcal disease is a bacterial infection that causes pneumonia, meningitis, sepsis and other lifethreatening ailments and kills 1.6 million people — including more than 800,000 children under the age of five — annually. International experts in the fields of health and infectious diseases have joined forces to raise awareness and encourage global prevention of pneumococcal disease: the world’s leading infectious killer of children and adults worldwide.

The Pneumococcal Awareness Council of Experts (PACE) came together as a working group to save millions of lives, supporting development and availability of new vaccines. As an effort to urge policy-makers to ensure access to new life-saving vaccines to those most at risk, the launch of PACE follows the recent commitment of more than $1.5 billion by five countries and the Bill Gates Foundation in financing for pneumococcal vaccines.

ONE MILION CHILDREN DIE EVERY YEAR!

PACE estimates that, with increased awareness and a resulting commitment to purchase and deliver pneumococcal vaccines, 5.4 million children’s lives could be saved by 2030. Dr. Orin Levine, co-chairman of PACE, points out another reason for urgency is that current methods of treatment are growing weaker: “Pneumococcal infections are becoming more difficult to treat as bacteria become resistant to some commonly used antibiotics. Therefore, a comprehensive global plan for vaccine development and distribution should be launched. By encouraging professional societies, policy-makers and key health and financial decision-makers to make pneumococcal disease prevention a priority, our aim is to help save millions of lives.”

PNEUMOCOCAL VACCINE

Safe and effective vaccines currently exist to prevent pneumococcal deaths in children and adults. There are two types of pneumococcal vaccines: The first one is allowed after two years of age and the other is used two months after delivery. They are being applied in a limited number of countries worldwide. While it is not routinely applied in Turkey, vaccination is allowed at months 2, 4, 6 and 12-15. Two doses are applied to children older than 1 year of age with at least one-month intervals and a single dose is applied to those older than two years of age. In particular, it is recommended after two years of age for sickle cell anemia, cystic fibrosis, diabetes mellitus, chronic liver disease, HIV, nephrotic syndrome, chronic renal failure, splenetic absence or failure and asthma. Puffiness, rash, or fever may be caused at the vaccine site.

A seven-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV-7) was offered on the market in 2000 is currently in use in over 70 countries and can be used in infants and children from two weeks to nine years of age. Since infants in the U.S. began receiving routine pneumococcal conjugate vaccination in 2000, the country has nearly eliminated (reduced by 95%) childhood pneumococcal disease caused by vaccine serotypes. Currently, 10- and 13-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine formulations are in late stages of development and these conjugate vaccines are expected to prevent 50–80 percent of all serious pneumococcal infections worldwide.

At the Third Regional Pneumococcal Symposium held by PACE in Istanbul on February 13–14, it was revealed that 250 meningitis, 2,500 bacteraemia, 250,000 pneumonia and 2.5 million otitis media cases encountered in Turkey every year are caused by this bacteria. Seven children die from pneumococcus every minute worldwide.