There are seven children dying of pneumococcal diseases every minute worldwid.

HEALTH — The Pneumococcal Awareness Council of Experts (PACE) declared that there are many children dying from pneumonia, meningitis, sepsis and other life-threatening pneumococcal ailments every day worldwide. This number is also high for Turkey, and there are 250 meningitis, mixing of bacteria/ microbes in 2500 blood samples, 250,000 pneumonia, and 2.5 million otitis media cases encountered every year due to this bacteria in our country, says Prof. Dr. Mehmet Ceyhan, Chairman of the Turkish Association of Infectious Diseases. The most effective way of protecting against the pneumococcal diseases is vaccination.

However, this vaccine is currently used by only five percent of children in Turkey, since it is very expensive and uncommon. Dr. Ceyhan stresses that this vital vaccine should be included in the vaccination scheme to be provided for every child free of charge.

In 2007, the World Health Organization issued a paper encouraging that pneumococcal conjugate vaccine be a priority that needs to be included in the national child immunization schemes. While 16 EU member countries integrated the vaccine into their health systems up to now, some countries are also putting the issue on their agenda. As for Turkey, although the vaccine is available in market, it is not covered by the social health insurance.

The PACE Global Call for Action, signed by nearly 30 health associations worldwide, including the Turkish Association of Children Infectious Diseases, is aimed at ensuring availability of pneumococcal vaccine under an economical and stable pricing policy. PACE estimates that 5.4 million children will have been saved by 2030, if the awareness-raising efforts currently in progress yield positive results.