October 24, 2008

Rwanda plans to introduce the pneumococcal vaccine into its national immunisation programme by 2009, making her one of the first African countries to vaccinate its children routinely against pneumococcal disease, and living up to the old adage that prevention is better than cure.

Against a background in which curbing underfive mortality rates are key indicators to the success of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG’s), in other areas Rwanda’s health policy is on track for example the MDG’s to do with controlling HIV/AIDS and eradicating malaria.

Early this year Rwanda was lauded for reducing malaria prevalence by 60 percent, through the use of bed nets, artemisinin-based therapies and indoor spraying. The country has now gone further through her intentions at ensuring that infant mortality rates drop, through the introduction of the pneumococcal vaccine into the National Health Programme.

Rwanda’s efforts have not been in vain; they are to be recognised and honoured by the Washington-based Pneumococcal Awareness Council of Experts (PACE).

Today, in Washington DC, the Rwandan Embassy’s First Counselor, Michael Rukata, will accept the Global Leadership Award, on behalf of the Health Ministry.

It is commendable that Rwanda is part of the global efforts at introducing the pneumococcal vaccine, in the fight against the deadly bacteria which in different circumstances result in the infected getting pneumonia, bacterium and meningitis.

Combined, these three are a major threat to the well-being of the whole nation, as they are leading killers, especially in developing countries.

However, while countries around the world debate whether to include pneumococcal vaccinations in their immunization programs, Rwanda is lauded as one of the first countries whose mind is already made.

In other countries, since the introduction of the pneumococcal vaccination, reports register a decline in severe pneumococcal infections among young children.

A healthy nation is the bedrock to the successful implementation of Rwanda’s national project, the Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRS), which will further spur the nation’s development efforts.