Life-saving pneumococcal vaccination programme protects all infants in the West Bank and Gaza

12 November 2012

11 November 2012
East Jerusalem, West Bank

All infants in the West Bank and Gaza are now receiving the life-saving pneumococcal vaccine, thanks to the generosity of the Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahayan Charitable and Humanitarian Foundation (Zayed Foundation) based in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. The vaccine prevents such killer diseases as pneumonia and meningitis.

The inclusion by the Palestinian Ministry of Health of the latest generation of the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine in the routine vaccination schedule for children means that from this year forward the approximately 120,000 babies born annually in the West Bank and Gaza will be vaccinated and protected from life-threatening pneumococcal infections.

“The introduction of pneumococcal vaccine represents a top public health priority of the Ministry of Health (MOH) of the Palestinian National Authority and is part of a long-term initiative to make modern vaccines available to all children in Palestine”, said Dr. Hani Abdeen, the Palestinian Minister of Health.

“We are extremely grateful to the Zayed Foundation for giving us the resources to protect our children from debilitating and sometimes fatal pneumococcal infections”, added Dr. Asad Ramlawi, Director General of the Ministry’s Primary Health Care and Public Health Directorate.

Pneumococcal diseases such as pneumonia, meningitis, and sepsis are the leading vaccine-preventable killers of children under five years of age worldwide. For this reason the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that countries provide the pneumococcal vaccine to all infants as part of their routine vaccination schedule.

The programme is being implemented by the MOH in partnership with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). The Rostropovich-Vishnevskaya Foundation (RVF), a charitable organisation specialising in modernising immunisations for children worldwide, is providing critical technical support and oversight.

The MOH will assume full financial responsibility for sustaining the programme starting in 2013. The requirement of financial and operational sustainability is an inherent part of all programs supported by the Zayed Foundation and the RVF.

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Background information

Established in 1993 by the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahayan, the Zayed Bin Sultan Al-Nahayan Charitable and Humanitarian Foundation has carried on his vision by implementing large-scale humanitarian projects. More information about the Zayed Foundation is at www.zayedchf.com  

 

RVF is a 501(c) 3 non-political, non-partisan organisation working to improve the health and future of children in need. Read more about the RVF, its mission and programmes at www.rostropovich.org.  

UNRWA is a United Nations agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 and is mandated to provide assistance and protection to a population of some 5 million registered Palestine refugees. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank and the Gaza Strip to achieve their full potential in human development, pending a just solution to their plight. UNRWA’s services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, microfinance and emergency assistance.

For more information, please contact:

Costandi Mustaklem at 0595616999
Email: cos@bluewin.ch

Chris Gunness
UNRWA Spokesperson
Mobile: +972 (0)54 240 2659
Office: +972 (0)2 589 0267
c.gunness@unrwa.org

Sami Mshasha
UNRWA Arabic Spokesperson
Mobile: +972 (0)54 216 8295
Office: +972 (0)2 589 0724
s.mshasha@unrwa.org

Background Information

UNRWA is a United Nations agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 and is mandated to provide assistance and protection to a population of some 5 million registered Palestine refugees. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank and the Gaza Strip to achieve their full potential in human development, pending a just solution to their plight. UNRWA’s services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, and microfinance.

Financial support to UNRWA has not kept pace with an increased demand for services caused by growing numbers of registered refugees, expanding need, and deepening poverty. As a result, the Agency's General Fund (GF), supporting UNRWA’s core activities and 97 per cent reliant on voluntary contributions, has begun each year with a large projected deficit. Currently the deficit stands at US$ 56 million.

For more information, please contact: