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Vaccines preventing pneumococcal disease protect African children with sickle-cell disease
Date:4/28/2010

ne Access Center (IVAC) at The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and co-chair of the Pneumococcal Awareness Council of Experts (PACE). "Millions of lives can be saved by improving access to pneumococcal conjugate vaccines."

One-third of all indigenous inhabitants of Sub-Saharan Africa carry the sickle cell gene, and approximately, 230,000 African children are born with sickle-cell disease each year. Because routine access to medical care is out of reach for many children in the region, the average life expectancy for those afflicted with sickle cell disease in Africa is less than 20 years. In many developed countries where comprehensive care including pneumococcal vaccination and aggressive treatment are available, life-expectancy for sickle cell patients is 45-55 years. Since PCV was first introduced in 2000 in the United States, invasive pneumococcal infections in children with sickle-cell disease declined 68 percent in children under 10 and by 90 percent in children under five.

"The one-two punch of sickle-cell disease coupled with pneumococcal disease is devastating in Africa making protecting Africa's children through vaccination an urgent priority," said Ciro A. de Quadros executive vice president of the Sabin Vaccine Institute and co-chair of PACE. "We urge the leaders of African countries to make routine vaccination against pneumococcal disease a priority."

Pneumococcal disease is a bacterial infection that causes life-threatening pneumonia, meningitis and sepsis. Every year, pneumococcal disease takes the lives of nearly 1.6 million people, nearly half of whom are young children in the developing world, where vaccines to prevent the disease are not yet in widespread use. The lack of access in these countries has been due primarily to obstacles in awareness, policy guidance and available financing for low-income countries.

Safe and effective vaccines currently exist to prevent pneumococcal deaths. In 2006,
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Contact: Mala Persaud
Mala.Persaud@gmmb.com
202-572-2980
Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health
Source:Eurekalert

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