Speaking at the Third Regional Pneumococcal Symposium, Dr. Ciro A. de Quadros, cochairman of the Pneumococcal Awareness Council of Experts (PACE), said that the pneumococcus bacteria leading to diseases such as pneumonia, meningitis and bacteraemia causes 1.6 million people to die every year, half of whom are children. Dr. de Quadros said that pneumococcal diseases cause seven children to die every minute, suggesting that millions of lives can be saved by vaccination and immediate action is required to fight against the bacteria.

VACCINATION SCHEME NECESSARY

Mentioning the effects of pneumococcus bacteria in Turkey, Prof. Dr. Mehmet Ceyhan of the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Department, Faculty of Medicine of Hacettepe University, stated that some seven thousand children die every year from diseases caused by this bacteria in Turkey, but unfortunately the PVC-7 vaccine has not been included in the national vaccination scheme. Pointing out that the bacteria leading to 250,000 pneumonia and 2.5 million otitis media cases every year is a major problem affecting millions of children, Ceyhan called for the inclusion of the vaccine in the national vaccination scheme as soon as possible and the provision of the vaccines by the Ministry of Health free of charge. Ceyhan also added that Turkey has produced several vaccines and exported them to other countries in the past, but now no vaccines are being produced.

Dr. Orin Levine, co-chairman of PACE, stated that awareness of this bacteria is low although its effects are a comprehensive global problem and the Council has been making efforts to increase awareness, emphasizing that an increase in public awareness of the diseases and effects will help save lives both in Turkey and around the world. Levine also called on the authorities and lawmakers to take measures to prevent this disease.