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Ward Councillors, Media Practitioners Sensitised on New Vaccine

Jun 10, 2009, 6:44 AM | Article By: Sainey Marenah

The Health and Education Unit of the Department of State for Health and Social Welfare, in collaboration with the Expanded Programme on Immunisation on Monday 8 June, 2009, held a one-day sensitisation forum on the introduction of pneumococcal conjugate vaccine.

The forum, which brought together ward councilors as well as media practitioners, was held at the Kanifing Municipal Council. The Gambia, according to health officials, was the second next to Uganda to introduce the vaccine in Africa.

Speaking at the opening forum, Dawda Sowe of the Expanded Programme on Immunization, said streptococcus pneumonia are a group of bacteria also known as pneumococci, adding that they line in the nose and throats of people of all ages.

According him, "pneumococci can infect many different sides, some common like the middle ear and the sinuses and some less common but more serious including the lungs, central nervous system and the blood system".

Dilating on the history of the vaccine, Mr. Sowe noted that because polysaccharide vaccines are not effective in children younger than two to three years, a conjugate was developed in February 2000.

For his part, the Mayor of the Kanifing Municipal Council, Yankuba Colley described the forum as a great day for his council to receive the vaccine and being the first Municipal Council to be sensitised. He said the vaccine would go a long way in helping the survival of children.

Mayor Colley also commended the Ministry of Health for what he described as close partnership in health related activities.

Also, at the occasion, Ms Rohey Njie of the Health and Education Unit of the Ministry of Health, said the introduction of the new vaccine into the country's health service comes at the right time as a result of the burden of pneumococcal diseases in the Gambia.

The vaccine, she added, aims at reducing morbidity and mortality thus preventing meningitis and other related diseases.

She noted that social mobilisation occupies a central part in the sensitisation approach with the primary focus on working with people in a participatory process to raise awareness.

The forum, was moderated by Mr Amadou Sowe, the Head of the Health and Education Unit of the Ministry of Health.