Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Parliamentary Group welcomes UNICEF's programme

The APPG for Global Action against Childhood Pneumonia today welcomed the efforts of UNICEF to provide routine pneumococcal vaccinations for children entering the Dadaab refugee complex but warned that more must be done.
 Childhood pneumonia is the leading infectious cause of child mortality worldwide, causing over 1.5 million child deaths every year. Many of these deaths could be averted with the use of simple vaccines and effective treatments. Without a concerted effort on behalf of the global community, pneumonia will continue to claim the lives of millions of children each year.  
Kenya was among the first countries in Africa to introduce the vaccine against pneumococcal disease, one of the leading causes of pneumonia, and, thanks to UNICEF, this vaccine has now been supplied to all three refugee reception points in the Dadaab complex.
Located in the North Eastern Province of Kenya, on the Kenya-Somalia border, the Dadaab camp is the world’s largest refugee complex. Established in 1991 as a temporary measure to help refugees fleeing conflict in Somalia, it is now home to around 430,000 inhabitants and is estimated to grow at a rate of 1,200 new arrivals every day. The Dadaab complex now ranks as the third largest population centre in Kenya after the capital Nairobi and the city of Mombasa.
It is estimated that around forty percent of children entering the Dadaab camp have received no vaccinations at all and, despite the efforts of a range of NGOs, malnutrition, diarrhoea and respiratory tract infections remain widespread in the complex. With such a high concentration of people, hygiene standards are extremely low and the complex suffers from a critical shortage of clean water.
Co-chair of the APPG, Lord Eric Avebury said “Its brilliant that UNICEF are providing for the vaccination against pneumococcal disease – and also against rotavirus, the second biggest killer of small children - in the vast Dadaab camps. We must develop a coordinated response to protect other refugee children in Africa, such as those in new camps for the 35,000 in Ethiopia fleeing the attacks on civilians in Sudan’s disputed Blue Nile state”.
The APPG for Global Action against Childhood Pneumonia was established to raise awareness of the global disease burden of childhood pneumonia and to increase access to effective prevention and treatment interventions such as vaccines, effective use of antibiotics and education around the disease.   

Further information: Eric Avebury 020 7274 4617


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