Tag Archives: pneumococcal

Pneumoccocal disease in the developing world

12 Sep

The WHO haPneumo_deaths_maps recently released figures surrounding the global disease burden of pneumococcal disease and Hib, two of the leading causes of pneumonia which kills more children that AIDS, malaria and measles combined.

In 2000, 735,000 children under 5 died from pneumococcal disease which is an enormous number. There were an incredible 14.5 million cases globally.

This disease causes meningitis, pneumonia, sepsis and inner ear infections. These diseases lead to disability and death. Tragically, it is entirely preventable by vaccination.

According to the press release posted on PneumoADIP’s website, “the ten countries with the greatest number and greatest proportion of global pneumococcal cases were in Asia and Africa, and taken together account

Pneumococcal disease deaths

Pneumococcal disease deaths

for 66% of cases worldwide. These countries include India (27%), China (12%), Nigeria (5%), Pakistan (5%), Bangladesh (4%), Indonesia (3%), Ethiopia (3%), Democratic Republic of the Congo (3%), Kenya (2%) and the Philippines (2%).”

Hib, another disease that is almost completely preventable, yet in 2000, there were 363,000 deaths and 8.1 million cases.

The work of PneumoADIP, the Hib Initiative, the WHO, the GAVI Alliance and UNICEF to name but a few players has been phenomenal. Their work to get the developing world access to vaccines against this disease, in particular through the Advanced Market Commitment, has been phenomenal. Likewise, the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Pneumococcal Disease Prevention in the Developing World which I am involved with as secretariat has made enormous strides lifting the profile of this disease in the UK and overseas.

These figures will enable governments, for the first time, to have accurate figures actually detailing the scale of the problem. A significant reason why more hasn’t as yet been done was simply because there wasn’t enough awareness surrounding the disease and there were no accurate figures to ascertain the true breadth of the problem. However, nations will now understand the scope of the problem and be able to do something about it. These figures could make a world of difference and hopefully, it will.


Health systems in Malawi

30 Jan

On Wednesday, the Malawi High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, His Excellency Dr Francis Moto addressed the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Pneumococcal Disease in the Developing World (APPG) at their Annual General Meeting (AGM).

Dr Moto’s presentation was harrowing at best.

It should go without saying that Malawi is not the richest nation in the world. It is in fact, one of the poorest nations in Sub-Saharan Africa. So, it’s not surprising that there were a number of disturbing statistics that came out of that meeting. The most surprising and, in fact, utterly shocking, was the number of Malawian trained doctors currently working in Malawi, a country of 13 million.

How many doctors would you think there are? 10,000? 5,000? Keep going down.


According to the High Commissioner, there are only 150 Malawian trained doctors to treat a nation of 13 million. A nation with a 12-13% HIV rate. A nation where 90% of those HIV patients will suffer from pneumonia, mostly caused by pneumococcal disease. According to DFID, Malawi has a life expectancy rate 37 years and an infant death rate of 133 per 1000 children.

And only 150 doctors.

I’m sure it was no surprise that every jaw in the room dropped.

Only 20 medical grads graduate from the Malawian University each year, but according to those numbers, if each doctor stayed, in just 7 years, the entire medical fraternity would more than double. Unfortunately, many of these new grads are enticed overseas. Dr Moto then went on to explain that the old joke that there were more Malawian doctors in Manchester than in Malawi was actually once based in fact.

On the positive side, Malawi has a stable government who are actively engaging with groups like GAVI, PneumoADIP and the APPG, in an attempt to fix the problem of health systems and infant mortality. Malawi has also expressed interest in introducing the pneumococcal disease vaccine according to the Advance Market Commitment programme. That hopefully shows there is some light at the end of a very long tunnel.

Cross posted with Ruder Finn Dot Org.