THE allocated RM60 million is the starting point made by the government to shield our children from pneumococcal disease.
According to the Deputy Minister of Health, Dr Lee Boon Chye, the allocation is a sign of the government’s commitment to provide better healthcare to Malaysians as well as to assist the lower income group.
“The Ministry of Health (MoH) is thankful for the sizeable allocation made for providing pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV) to Malaysian children as tabled during Budget 2020. It goes to show the valiant efforts made by the government towards healthcare.”
Lee adds this important step is taken after thorough research by MoH.
“Pneumococcal disease affects 9.1 babies out of 100,000. That is a significant number, given that affected babies’ susceptibility in developing brain and lung problems. As many as 20 per cent of the babies affected can die from a pneumococcal infection.”
A much needed initiative
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has strongly recommended children to be immunised against pneumococcal disease since its inception around the year 2000, with later improvement in 2010.
“More than a hundred countries around the world have implemented immunisation against pneumococcal disease among children. The PCV will be an addition to the 11 vaccines already in place in our National Immunisation Programme.”
He mentions the cost for PCV has been a burden for many, as it would cost up to RM1,000 for the typical three to four rounds of injections.
“We will include PCV in the immunisation programme and have it be free of charge at public hospitals and clinics nationwide. However, the vaccines will only start to be administered after the budget has been approved and the vaccines itself has been acquired.
“Through estimates, we would be able to start providing PCV to babies born on 1 Jan 2020 by the middle of next year.”
The same was said by Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, Director-General of Health in a media conference in early Oct. He says the PCV programme may be able to begin by the end of the first quarter of next year, depending on the negotiation process with the pharmaceutical companies supplying said vaccines.
Is it safe?
Above is a question many might start to ask when a new vaccine comes into town. As some Malaysians are unfortunately plagued by strong scepticism (if not downright rejection) about vaccines, it is important for the authorities to communicate clearly to parents on the advantages of PCV, and of any other vaccines for that matter.
“The public, especially parents with babies need to understand that vaccine in general is a scientifically proven preventative measure against diseases. As with the case for PCV, there is a chance that pneumococcal disease can be completely eradicated if immunisation rate is up to 95 per cent,” explains Lee.
He says that for parents, babies developing fever after vaccination is normal.
“Mild side effects shouldn’t be a deterrent for parents to have their babies vaccinated, as they could provide a bigger health risk to themselves and others around them if they are not immunised.”
He also mentions that MoH is hard at work to provide all the nurses in hospitals and clinics nationwide with ample knowledge on vaccines, and have them explain about them in detail to parents.
“We hope that the PCV can be administered to every child to ensure a better and healthier future for them.” — The Health
Q&A with Dr Lee Boon Chye
How will the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV) be implemented in Malaysia?
The vaccines will be included in the National Immunisation Programme, which will now have a total of 12 protection against diseases by vaccination.
Will the vaccines be given to babies by the end of this year? And what are the eligibility criteria if any?
The allocation of the PCV for children is part of the Budget 2020. Once approved, all babies born on 1 Jan 2020 onwards will be eligible to receive free pneumococcal vaccination at public hospitals and clinics. The vaccination will be administered in three doses.
By your estimation, how many Malaysians will benefit from the PCV once it has been rolled out next year?
It is estimated that around 500,000 children every year will benefit from the vaccination. We hope to have a immunisation rate of 95 per cent to ensure total protection from pneumococcal disease.Recent tabling of Budget 2020 saw the Ministry of Health receiving RM60 million allocation to provide our children with vaccination against pneumococcal disease
Recent tabling of Budget 2020 saw the Ministry of Health receiving RM60 million allocation to provide our children with vaccination against pneumococcal disease