|- 6,000 children vaccinated against JE, Hib meningitis in Nampo, Sariwon
- Humanitarian project seeks to introduce new vaccines for DPRK children
SEOUL, Korea - The International Vaccine Institute, an international organization based in Seoul, Korea has vaccinated 6,000 children in the Democratic People Republic of Korea (DPRK) against Japanese encephalitis (JE) and Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) meningitis, in partnership with DRPK authorities.
A team of IVI scientists recently visited the DPRK to conduct this pilot vaccination campaign, involving vaccination of 3,000 children in the city of Sariwon against JE and 3,000 children in Nampo against Hib. Both cities are near the capital, Pyongyang. While the JE vaccine only requires a single dose, Hib is a three-dose vaccine and the second and third doses of Hib will be offered to the children in Nampo in April and May.
The IVI team, led by its Director-General, Dr. John Clemens, visited clinics and public health centers in the two cities to oversee the immunization campaigns on February 29. They provided DPRK health professionals with advice and technical support, while monitoring the vaccination procedures and the overall DPRK project, which has been underway since early 2007.
The IVI has been working with the Academy of Medical Sciences (AMS) to help DPRK public health authorities assess the feasibility of introducing these vaccines into their routine child vaccination programs. The campaign has been supported by the Ministry of Unification of the Republic of Korea. The vaccines were donated by Glovax Co. (Korea), Shantha Biotechnics (India), and GSK Vaccines (Belgium).
“The project has been very collaborative and has gone smoothly. We have met all the timelines, and it has been a model for joint cooperation,” Dr. Clemens said. “I found the sites where the kids have been vaccinated to be very well organized with good recordkeeping systems.”
Over the past few years, the DPRK government has greatly improved its national routine immunization program with support from the international community, including the GAVI Alliance, the World Health Organization and UNICEF. However, it has not yet introduced routine vaccination of all children against JE and Hib, which kill an estimated 400,000 people per year worldwide primarily in developing countries.
The IVI began collaboration with the DRPK by sponsoring and organizing study tours for DPRK vaccine professionals last year. The tours, which focused on the prevention and diagnosis of JE and Hib, took scientists from the AMS to leading public health and vaccine institutions in China and Vietnam in May and August to provide hands-on experience and training in laboratory diagnosis of these diseases and on the production of these vaccines to the DPRK professionals. The IVI’s program of assistance to the DPRK also involves equipping the AMS laboratories and training scientists in order to strengthen laboratory diagnosis of Hib and JE in the country, as well as conducting pilot campaigns of vaccination against JE and Hib.
Dr. Clemens said, “As an international organization based in Seoul, we sincerely hope that our humanitarian support for DPRK authorities will help improve inter-Korean relations, as well as contribute to the welfare of DPRK children.”
|Dr. John Clemens, Director-General of the International Vaccine Institute (IVI), with children at a daycare center in the city of Sariwon in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) on February 29. The Seoul-based international organization supported the DPRK in immunizing 6,000 children against Japanese encephalitis and Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) meningitis to help the country introduce vaccines against JE and Hib in its national immunization programs.
Hib and JE
Bacterial and viral infections due to Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) and Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV) kill an estimated 400,000 children globally each year. At present, the diseases caused by these pathogens are preventable with existing vaccines that are in use across the world, including in several developing countries.
The International Vaccine Institute (IVI) is the world’s only international organization devoted exclusively to developing and introducing new and improved vaccines to protect the world’s poorest people, especially children in developing countries. Established as an initiative of the United Nations Development Program in 1997, the IVI operates under a treaty signed by 40 countries and the World Health Organization. The Institute conducts research in more than 20 countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America on vaccines against diarrheal infections, bacterial meningitis and pneumonia, as well as Japanese encephalitis and dengue fever, and develops new and improved vaccines at its headquarters in Seoul. For more information, please visit www.ivi.int