RM60mil for pneumococcal vaccination programme 'a real investment in public health', say experts


  • Nation
  • Saturday, 12 Oct 2019

KUALA LUMPUR: The RM60mil allocation for pneumococcal vaccine to be included into the National Immunisation Programme (NIP) marks the end of the struggle of paediatricians and parents who have been demanding for the coverage for all children, says consultant paediatrician and neonatologist Datuk Dr Musa Mohd Nordin.

In a joint open letter with MyHealth Outreach health activist Chan Li Jin to the Health Minister, Dr Musa said that having the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV) included in the NIP meant making it available to all children for free.

Currently, families who can afford it at private clinics or hospitals pay RM300 for each jab and over RM1,000 for the full course, he said on Saturday (Oct 12).

In the open letter titled "A real investment in public health," the two representatives thanked the government for the gift of health.

"Once the PCV is available to all children, we can expect the cumulative benefits over the next five years," said Dr Musa.

One can expect to see a reduction of pneumococcal deaths, invasive pneumococcal disease, pneumonia cases, and cases of otitis media (middle ear infection), he added.

He said a recent study showed that the government stands to attain net overall savings in direct and indirect medical costs amounting to US$119.3mil (RM499mil) over five years.

"Children will have fewer sick days, which means less interruption in education, fewer long term disabilities from pneumococcal disease which will reduce the ability to learn and stay in school," he said, adding that parents too do not have to skip work to care for their sick child and incur more costs.

"These will affect the overall productivity of the country," he added.

Dr Musa said the PCV will also protect the vulnerable, such as children with disabilities and those who cannot be vaccinated, as well as the elderly population, with pneumonia being the main cause of death among Malaysians aged above 60.

It has been shown since its introduction in the US in 2000 that an uptake rate of 70% of the PCV would confer substantial herd immunity protection to at-risk populations, he said.

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Pneumococcal vaccine , Budget 2020 , Health

   

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