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Routine Hib Vaccination Could Save Innumerable Asian Children

lied for funding from the GAVI Alliance to set up a DTP-Hepatitis B-Hib "pentavalent" combination which they hope to introduce into the routine childhood immunization program in 2008.

"Bangladesh views Hib vaccine as an integral tool in our mission to improve child survival in Bangladesh. This study supported the conclusions of the consultative workshop organized in June 2006 by WHO around the introduction of the Hib vaccine into Bangladesh," said Dr. Md. Abdul Quader Mian, Deputy Director EPI and Programme Manager Child Health and LCC, Ministry of Health, Bangladesh.

In spite of a growing body of evidence, only 26 percent of the world's children live in countries with access to Hib vaccine. This means hundreds of thousands of children in Asian countries are presently not benefiting from this easy, life-saving vaccine. However, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and Bhutan have reviewed existing evidence and made the decision to bring in Hib vaccine and applied for support from the GAVI Alliance.

"We are delighted that so many Asian countries are preparing to introduce the Hib vaccine and protect their children against Hib pneumonia and Hib meningitis. This is a clear indication of these governments' commitment to reduce child mortality," said Julian Lob-Levyt, Executive Secretary of the GAVI Alliance.

The WHO recommends that all countries implement Hib vaccine into routine child immunization programs. They assess that Hib internationally is to blame for 400,000 deaths each year in children under five years of age and around 3 million cases of serious illness resulting in long term consequences such as deafness, learning disabilities, paralysis and mental retardation.

"This simple, life-saving vaccine can prevent Hib pneumonia and meningitis in children, often called the 'invisible cause of forgotten child killers' in Asia. Immunization programs, including Hib, are an essential com
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