Pneumonia is the largest single infectious contributor to childhood mortality in Ethiopia. In fact, Ethiopia is one of the top 10 countries in the world with the highest burden of pneumonia in children under five years of age. In 2009, Ethiopia was approved to receive GAVI Alliance support to introduce a new vaccine – the pneumococcal vaccine – to combat childhood pneumonia and work toward the national priority of reducing infant mortality. In 2010, due to a lack of global supply, the pneumococcal vaccine's introduction in Ethiopia was pushed back to 2013. The Clinton Health Access Initiative was already working with the Ministry of Health on vaccine introduction and felt 2013 was too long to wait, which would be lifesaving and desperately needed by the children of Ethiopia. Through new agreements with GAVI and the development and implementation of needed evaluations and safety precautions, CHAI supported the ministry to create a plan to introduce the pneumococcal vaccine in 2011. On October 16, 2011, Ethiopia launched the pneumococcal vaccine, two years earlier than expected. As a result of this, it is estimated that approximately 57,000 deaths per year due to pneumonia can be avoided in Ethiopia, and 104,000 under-five deaths will be avoided in the two years the vaccine is available ahead of schedule.
July 11, 2012