Collective Preventive Services attends pneumonia and meningitis vaccine meeting

POSTED: 04/4/12 11:52 AM

St. Maarten – Head of Collective Preventive Services (CPS) Virginia Asin recently attended a meeting in Argentina on meningococcal and pneumococcal vaccine.Various countries from Latin America and the Caribbean Region presented their findings on these vaccines, which can save lives. Both global as well as regional figures were presented.
PAHO and the Sabin Vaccine Institute organized these two meetings with the objective of presenting a study of meningococcal meningitis disease and to discuss lessons learned from the introduction of the pneumococcal (pneumonia) vaccine in the region and the Americas. The meningococcal symposium, which ran from March 19 to 20, was the first to be held in the region.
“The symposium presented the global perspective and the Latin American perspective on meningococcal. There were interesting discussions and exchange of ideas,” Dr. Asin said.

Health experts throughout the Americas revealed new findings on the prevalence of meningitis in Latin America and the Caribbean. Approximately 20 researchers made their presentations to 181 attendees. Cuba and Brazil, which are the leading research countries as it relates to meningitis vaccines, both made presentations on their experiences. The Sabin Vaccine Institute also presented their findings on vaccinations, and also addressed vaccination schedules as it relates to introduction. The latter has to be studied further.

The purpose of the symposium, which was organized by Sabin Vaccine Institute and the Pan American Health Organization (Paho) was to exchange information on meningococcal meningitis. This disease infects the membranes of the brain and spinal cord. It is a debilitating and potentially fatal disease for children, adolescents and people living in overcrowded housing. Researchers, vaccination experts, economists and others are evaluating its extent, cost and obstacles to prevention through vaccination.

The second part of the meeting covered the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine on March 20 and 21. Lessons learned from the introduction of the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine in the region and the Americas were also discussed amongst expanded program on immunization (EPI) managers.
“Approximately 60 persons participated in the two day discussions on the pneumonia vaccine,” Dr. Asin said.
Countries such as Argentina, Brazil, Honduras, Peru, Colombia and Barbados made presentations on the implementation of pneumococcal conjugate vaccine experiences in their countries.
“I would like to compliment PAHO for mobilizing such an event, and it only makes us realize that we have to start thinking about research, but in the mean time we can piggy back on the bigger countries, because research is expensive. There is potential if we work together, and this offers a good opportunity for introduction of the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine on St. Maarten,” Dr. Asin said.

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