This year’s First West African Vaccine Summit organised by Pfizer seeks to find answers to the health burden poised by meningococcal and pneumococcal diseases globally.
Medical experts in Nigeria have called for early diagnosis and vaccination in paediatrics and adults, in order to reduce the morbidity and mortality rate attributable to these diseases.
The medical practitioners who spoke at the summit said it was unacceptable to be losing a large percentage of the Nigerian population to preventable diseases like meningitis and pneumonia, with the availability of effective vaccines to prevent the attacks.
Meningococcal disease is a major cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide with reported epidemics and outbreaks in different parts of the world. Despite the availability of antimicrobial therapy, challenges remain in early recognition and prevention of the disease.
The worldwide health burden attributable to pneumococcal disease remains significant, particularly in children aged under 5 and adults aged over 65. Africa bears a large portion of this burden with the region having the highest global incidence and mortality rate of pneumococcal disease in children younger than 5 years.
Delivering a paper titled : “Expanded age BOM Pneumococcal/PCV 13 expanded indication”, Osi-Ogbu Ogugua, Chief Consultant and head of Geriatric/Endocrinology unit at the National Hospital Abuja, identified chronic liver disease, predisposing factors to invasive pneumococcal disease.
While attributing 60 per cent of childhood death to pneumococcal, she further mentioned measles as a predisposing factor to the disease in Paediatrics, stating that under 5 children and the aged are at a higher risk of the disease.
Still on pneumococcal disease, Adejumoke Ayede, a senior lecturer in the Department of Paediatrics, College of Medicine, University of Ibadan, disclosed the mortality rate of pneumonia in Nigeria as at 2008 to be 177,000, lamenting the paucity of current data.
Going forward, Ms. Ayede recommended the use of pneumococcal vaccine, the use of PCV 13 and Nimenrix- as tested and proven vaccines for the prevention of broadest serotype pneumococcal disease respectively. Aside the use of vaccines for prevention, she mentioned adequate nutrition, proper hygiene, a sound immune system, keeping the body warm in cold weather, and micro supplements as other preventive methods against the disease.
Professor Gregory Erhabor explained the essence of the summit, saying it is imperative for stakeholders to improve their knowledge on service delivery in order to have the best patient outcome. He said Pfizer deemed it fit to update health care practitioners on the latest trends in the management of preventable diseases, in order for them to compete favourably with their counterparts in other parts of the world, and to have a formidable Healthcare team in the country.
The Director of Corporate Affairs, Pfizer Nigeria and East African Region, Margaret Olele, explained the efforts of Pfizer in combating meningitis and Pneumonia in Nigeria, especially for the internally displaced person (IDP’s).