Gordon MP Malcolm Bruce has returned from a visit to Bangladesh, where he saw how funds given by the UK are helping to prevent avoidable deaths from pneumonia.
Mr Bruce, who chairs Westminster’s International Development Committee, made his visit ahead of the third annual ‘World Pneumonia Day’ on 12th November.
Marked by organisations all around the world, the day focuses on pneumonia as a public health issue, highlighting the fact that up to one million children under the age of five die each year, mainly in the developing world, from preventable pneumonia.
During his visit, Mr Bruce met with public health representatives, non-governmental organisations and politicians in Bangladesh to see for himself how funds given by the UK are helping to prevent the avoidable deaths which arise each year from pneumonia.
The GAVI Alliance, formerly the Global Alliance for Vaccinations and Immunisation, is one such non-governmental organisation. A public-private global health partnership, it aims to save childrens’ lives and protect health by increasing access to immunisations in developing countries.
Backed by governments, the World Health Organization, UNICEF, the World Bank, vaccine manufacturers and private philanthropists such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, it has enabled 288 million children worldwide to be vaccinated since 2000 and helped to save up to five million lives.
In June this year, the UK Government pledged £814 million to enable GAVI to roll out vaccines in a number of countries to help save a further four million lives.
Mr Bruce praised the work of Bangladeshi health professionals, and remarked on the positive impact of UK aid.
“It has been very encouraging to see the hard work being done to tackle the scourge of pneumonia on the ground in rural clinics and urban health centres here in Bangladesh”, he said. “With this contribution to GAVI, the UK is making a real impact to so many individual lives and by extension to their families, not only in Bangladesh but throughout the developing world.”
With GAVI’s support, the roll-out to developing countries of the pneumococcal vaccines which prevent Pneummonia began in Nicaragua back in December 2010. In 2011 alone, 15 more countries have introduced pneumococcal vaccines into their national routine immunisation programmes.
The organisation is working to vaccinate 90 million children in 58 countries against pneumococcal disease by 2015.