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MSF launches new strategies to help gov’ts buy 'expensive' pneumonia vaccine

By JT - Mar 28,2017 - Last updated at Mar 28,2017

AMMAN — Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) on Monday held a conference in Amman, announcing the launch of new strategies to help governments negotiate prices to obtain the life-saving pneumococcal vaccine, an MSF statement said.

Pneumonia is the main cause of the increase of deaths among children around the world, killing around half a million children annually, MSF said.

In spite of the existence of a vaccine for the disease, produced by pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline, millions of children are left without protection in countries like Jordan, Indonesia, Iraq, Romania, Thailand and elsewhere, because of the two companies' high prices, according to the statement.

MSF’s Head of Mission in Jordan Marc Schakal said that Doctors Without Borders witnessed many patients suffering from pneumonia and many middle-income countries' children die because their governments could not afford the vaccine. 

He explained those patients were not so poor as to get help or discounts from organisations like Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, yet also not rich enough to afford the high costs of vaccines. 

MSF aims to create an alternative so that countries like Jordan can receive the vaccine, sales of which amounted to $36 billion, with MSF arguing that both Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline can afford to reduce their prices to enable middle-income countries to protect their children from pneumonia. 

In 2016, Pfizer charged JD43.05 ($60.90) and GlaxoSmithKline JD36.54 ($51.51) for one vaccine for one child, according to MSF. 

The total cost for Jordan to buy the vaccine was estimated at between JD12.2 million and JD14.4 million, meaning this vaccine alone would comprise between 57 and 67 per cent of the Kingdom’s total budget for vaccines. 

The government faced obstacles to obtaining vaccines that could save lives, but, with the "protection programme", 99 per cent of the vaccines will be covered, the MSF statement said, adding that the Jordanian government is working hard to ensure vaccines are available for all.

 

Mohammad Tarawneh, primary healthcare director at the Health Ministry, said that there is a lot of pressure on Jordan to provide basic commodities because of the Syrian crisis, noting that the pneumonia vaccine is vital, but cannot be secured unless its price is reduced.

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