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Press Release: ASAP Issues Statement Regarding PCV-10 Procurement In The Philippines

15 November 2014

For Immediate Release:

14 November 2014

14 November - Manila: As concern spreads regarding the government’s 2012 procurement of pneumocccal disease vaccines for the National Immunisation Programe, an official statement has been issued to the press by the Asian Strategic Alliance for Pneumococcal disease prevention (ASAP), a scientific working group which makes recommendations on pneumococcal disease prevention in Asia.

The National Bureau of Investigation is currently looking into the 2012 purchase of PCV 10 vaccines that cost the government more than P833 million.

The statement took the form of a letter to major newspapers in the Philippines, including the Philippines Star and Inquirer, and was penned by the Chairman of the Asian Strategic Alliance for Pneumococcal disease prevention (ASAP), in response to a note from Dr. Lulu Bravo, a Philippines member of ASAP. 

In the letter, ASAP wrote, “Every doctor and pharmacist knows that there are two brands of the vaccine in the market and the choice of which brand depends on the predominant serotypes in the particular country, but there is an overlap in choosing between the 10- and 13-valent one. The only significant difference would be in serotype 19A, the prevalence of which fluctuates year by year and is little known in the region.”

ASAP added, “… we are certain the Department of Health took into consideration the cost and effectiveness of each of the vaccine brands. With limited serotype prevalence data in the Philippines and most Asian countries, the choice of vaccine really depends on cost. The Philippines wisely decided to procure the cheaper of the two vaccines, rather than not to start the program altogether like the other countries.” 

In conclusion, ASAP congratulated the Philippines for introducing the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine in the NIP ahead of many other relatively wealthier countries.

But, “It therefore saddens us to see this controversy being played up and we hope that it will not result in reduced uptake of this life-saving vaccine that the children of the Philippines desperately need at this time.”

The full text of the letter is reproduced below.

Contact Person: 
Dr. Zulkifli Ismail
asap.pneumo@gmail.com


14 November 2014

Dear Editor,

RE: Vaccine Fiasco in the Philippines

I refer to the recent controversy that has been in the media over the last few days regarding the pneumococcal vaccine that has been introduced in the Philippines. When the other countries in the ASEAN region heard about the Philippines introducing the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine in the National Immunisation Program (NIP), they were envious and wished that their own governments would take this bold step in committing such a large sum of money to the prevention of a major killer of children, pneumonia and meningitis, caused by the bacteria Streptococcus pneumoniae. 

Every doctor and pharmacist knows that there are two brands of the vaccine in the market and the choice of which brand depends on the predominant serotypes in the particular country, but there is an overlap in choosing between the 10- and 13-valent one. The only significant difference would be in serotype 19A, the prevalence of which fluctuates year by year and is little known in the region.  

In any middle income country that is not GAVI-eligible, cost becomes an issue and there are many cost-effective studies using both vaccines in many countries including the Philippines.

In the selection of the vaccine to be used in the Philippines, we are certain the Department of Health took into consideration the cost and effectiveness of each of the vaccine brands. With limited serotype prevalence data in the Philippines and most Asian countries, the choice of vaccine really depends on cost. The Philippines wisely decided to procure the cheaper of the two vaccines, rather than not to start the program altogether like the other countries. 

There is no WHO document that recommends one vaccine brand over another. WHO recommends pneumococcal vaccination be used in countries in which the infant mortality is high. 

The Asian Strategic Alliance for Pneumococcal disease prevention (ASAP) congratulates the Philippines for introducing the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine in the NIP ahead of many other relatively wealthier countries. It therefore saddens us to see this controversy being played up and we hope that it will not result in reduced uptake of this life-saving vaccine that the children of the Philippines desperately need at this time.

Dr. Zulkifli Ismail
Chairman
Asian Strategic Alliance for Pneumococcal disease prevention (ASAP)
Malaysia

Pneumococcal Disease Backgrounder:

Pneumococcal disease is the leading cause of serious illness in children and adults throughout the world.1 The disease covers a range of infections that are caused by the Streptococcus pneumoniae (S. pneumoniae) bacterium.2 S. pneumoniae is estimated to kill annually close to half a million children under five years of age worldwide – especially in developing countries.3

S. pneumoniae can cause serious, life-threatening diseases such as meningitis (inflammation or swelling of the lining of the brain), pneumonia (inflammation of the lungs) and bacteraemia (a form of blood poisoning). These types of infection are called invasive pneumococcal disease (IPD) and occur when the pneumococcal bacteria infect normally sterile areas on the body. S. pneumoniae can also cause less severe, but considerably more common non-invasive diseases of the respiratory tract such as otitis media (inflammatory infection of the middle ear), sinusitis (inflammation of the sinuses) and bronchitis (inflammation of the airways in the lungs).4 These more common diseases can also be very debilitating and distressing for children and their parents.

The bacteria are spread through contact between people who are ill or who carry the bacteria in their throat. Bacteria are most commonly spread / transmitted through coughing or sneezing, or by touching objects which have bacteria on them, and then carrying the bacteria to the mouth or nose. It is common for people, especially children, to carry and spread pneumococcal bacteria without being ill from it.

About Asian Strategic Alliance for Pneumococcal disease prevention (ASAP):

The Asian Strategic Alliance for Pneumococcal Disease Prevention (ASAP) is a working group of healthcare professionals from across Asia, formed specifically to highlight the burden of pneumococcal disease in this region and foster collaboration in the fight against diseases caused by Streptococcus pneumonia. ASAP comprises of key opinion leaders in the field of pediatrics and pneumococcal disease (PD) control from across the region. 

ASAP was first launched on December 14, 2007 as the first and only group of healthcare professionals in this region formed to specifically focus resources on PD in Asia Pacific. It is the only Asian group to join the growing number of expert's from international organizations like the international Vaccine Institute (IVI) in the collective effort to raise awareness of infectious diseases like PD and it's prevention. 

ASAP is affiliated to the global Pneumococcal Awareness Council of Experts (PACE) and the Asian Society of Paediatric Infectious Diseases (ASPID). 

ASAP collaborates with other public health and pediatric groups to achieve its mission of containing and controlling pneumococcal disease in the Asia Pacific region through awareness, surveillance, advocacy and prevention. 

(SOURCE: Pneumococcal Disease Conference, October 19, 2008. Organized by ASAP-India & IAP.)

References:

1. The National Foundation of Infectious Diseases. Facts about pneumococcal disease. Available at: http://www.nfid.org/idinfo/pneumococcal. Last accessed November 2014.

2. Centre for Disease Control. Pneumococcal disease in children. Accessible at http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd-vac/pneumo/dis-faqs.htm. Last accessed November 2014.

3. World Health Organization. WHO fact sheet. Available at: 
http://www.who.int/immunization/monitoring_surveillance/burden/estimates/Pneumo_hib/en/ Last accessed November 2014.

4. WHO Pneumoccocal Conjugate Vaccine for childhood immunization position paper, April 2012. 
http://www.who.int/entity/wer/2012/wer8714.pdf?ua=1. Last accessed November 2014.

Please download the Press Release below...


  arrowASAP_Press_Release_Nov2014.pdf (English - pdf - 297 Kb)   



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