7 March 2016
The Gambia Government, through the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare and MRC Unit The Gambia, have worked collaboratively to determine the impact of the introduction of pneumococcal conjugate vaccines (PCV) on severe pneumococcal pneumonia, sepsis and meningitis. The report this week in Lancet Infectious Disease is the first publication concerning the impact of PCV in a low-income country.
The publication is part of the PSP (PSP) based at the MRC Unit The Gambia. The project is funded by the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation’s Pneumococcal Vaccines Accelerated Development and Introduction Programme, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the Medical Research Council, UK.
The Project is led by Principal Investigator, Dr Grant Mackenzie for the eight years of the project and the surveillance is based in Basse, in the rural east of the country. The project was done in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, The Gambia; Medical Research Council (UK); London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine; University of Otago; International Vaccine Access Centre at Johns Hopkins University; Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, Melbourne; and the Program for Appropriate Technology in Health, Seattle.
The aim of PSP is to determine the impact of PCV delivered within the Gambian Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI). The data generated will facilitate the introduction and maintenance of PCVs in other African countries.
Pneumococcal vaccine impact study on 14,650 patients showed that the use of PCV in the Gambian EPI reduced severe pneumococcal pneumonia, sepsis, and meningitis in children by 55%. The study shows the real-life impact of PCV in a developing country. Reducing the rate of pneumococcal disease will save lives and reduce a substantial economic burden on the health system and families.
Even though the findings were reassuring, there is a need for advocacy for PCV in low-income countries that have not yet introduced PCV. The PSP results should reassure developing countries that spending money on PCV, and delivering the vaccine with reasonable coverage, will substantially reduce rates of disease.
According to Dr Grant Mackenzie, the Principal Investigator for PSP, “If children in The Gambia develop serious pneumococcal pneumonia, sepsis or meningitis they have a 1 in 7 chance of dying. The Gambia’s EPI should be very pleased that their investment in the PCV programme has reduced the number of children who develop these conditions by 55%. Because the vaccine impact project in Basse was set in a routine EPI, other low-income countries that use PCV in a routine manner with reasonable coverage can expect a substantial impact on pneumococcal disease.”
Dr Grant Mackenzie presented the PSP results in Geneva to the WHO EPI Department and The Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization on Monday 8th February 2016.
Acknowledgement: The community of Basse, the PSP team, Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, and all partners.
Find more details at Lancet Infectious Disease website on: http://www.thelancet.com/journals/laninf/article/PIIS1473-3099(16)00054-2/abstra