.contact us |.about us
Home BizChina Newsphoto Cartoon LanguageTips Metrolife DragonKids SMS Edu
news... ...
             Focus on... ...

International funds to protect children against Hepatitis B
( 2002-06-02 09:46 ) (8 )

About six million newborns in China are expected to receive hepatitis B immunization annually thanks to a vaccine cooperation project put together by the Chinese Government, the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI) and the Vaccine Fund.

The Ministry of Health (MOH), GAVI and the Vaccine Fund signed a memorandum of understanding in Beijing on Saturday -- International Children's Day -- for the cooperation project to vaccinate Chinese children against hepatitis B, with special focus on the 12 poorest provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities in the western part of the nation.

The project involves 75 million U.S. dollars, of which China provides 50 percent and the two organizations contribute the other half.

Resources allocated under the project will be used in the next five years to purchase the vaccine and syringes, train health workers, provide logistics and support communication, as well as supervision and monitoring activities.

Implementation of the project will help the needy counties in the 12 regions to include hepatitis B immunization in the regular and routine Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI) work, so that an estimated six million newborns each year there will be protected against the hepatitis B virus.

Hepatitis B is a global health problem causing the deaths of nearly one million people every year.

Children are at high risk of being infected, and many of those who are infected develop liver cancer in adulthood. The disease is preventable if vaccine is administered to newborn babies.

The prevalence of hepatitis B is a serious public health concern in China, not only harming people's health, but also hampering China's social and economic development, said Zhang Wenkang, minister of health.

"Prevention is the priority" is the guideline of China's health policy, and hepatitis B vaccination is the most cost-effective strategy to prevent and control the infection, Zhang noted at the signing ceremony, which was held in the Great Hall of People in Beijing.

Carol Bellamy, Executive Director of the United Nation's Children's Fund (UNICEF), pointed out that, like hepatitis B, unsafe injections are a significant public health problem in China.

To address this problem, over 500 million auto-disposable syringes will be provided for the immunization program as part of the GAVI and Vaccine Fund support.

Bellamy, also the chairman of the GAVI Board, stressed that these syringes will help prevent the unnecessary spread of diseases such as hepatitis and AIDS, and step up the development of China's auto-disposable syringes industry.

The Chinese government has made a decision to include hepatitis B as a routine EPI and will earmark 180 million yuan (about 21.7 million U.S. dollars) during the 2001-2005 period for hepatitis B vaccination in 12 western regions and six central provinces. All the other provinces and regions are also making active efforts to raise funds for this purpose, according to Zhang.

Five types of vaccines are available to immunize Chinese children against measles, poliomyelitis, diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus and bacillus calmette guerin (BCG), as well as hepatitis B,MOH officials said.

"No other country that has applied for vaccines or funds through GAVI has allocated such high levels of additional funding to its immunization program." said Bellamy. ``This national commitment is essential to the program's sustainability, and a model for other countries."

GAVI was created in 1999 to save lives through the spreading of modern vaccines. Its partners include UNICEF, the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Bank, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, over 50 governments and non-governmental organizations, research and technical health institutes, and the vaccine industry.

The Vaccine Fund was also launched in 1999 to address the need for vaccines and immunization in the world's 74 poorest countries -- those with a per capita GNP of less than 1000 U.S. dollars. The Fund provides financing for immunization services and for purchasing new and under-utilized anti-disease vaccines.



        .contact us |.about us
  Copyright By chinadaily.com.cn. All rights reserved