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Somalia Launches Pentavalent Vaccine With Support From GAVI, UNICEF, WHO

“Coinciding with World Immunization Week, the Somali government announced on 24 April its intention to vaccinate all children under the age of one with a new five-in-one vaccine, known as a pentavalent vaccine, funded by the GAVI Alliance, with [UNICEF] and the [WHO] as implementing partners,” IRIN reports. “Currently, fewer than half of children in Somalia have received the mandatory diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (DTP) vaccine,” but “[t]he pentavalent will protect immunized children against these three diseases, as well as hepatitis B and Haemophilius influenzae type B,” according to the news service (4/26). “President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, speaking at the new vaccine’s launch in Mogadishu on Wednesday, said all Somali children deserve the good health that children from rich countries enjoy,” Bloomberg Businessweek writes, adding, “He blamed much of the country’s vaccination problem on al-Shabab, the al-Qaida-linked militant group that controls much of south-central Somalia and up until August 2011 controlled Mogadishu” (Straziuso, 4/25). A GAVI Alliance press release notes, “The launch of the vaccine is being accompanied by an outreach campaign to make parents aware of the importance of the new vaccine which replaces the DTP vaccine for diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (whooping cough)” (4/23).