MP calls for child vaccine in NIP

PETALING JAYA: The Ministry of Health has been urged to include Pneumoccocal Disease (PnD) vaccine in the National Immunisation Programme (NIP).

Kelana Jaya MP Wong Chen said the best way to protect against pneumococcal disease is by getting the pneumococcal vaccine (also called PCV13) as it protects a child from the disease, a potentially serious, and even deadly infection.

"Getting the vaccination also prevents a child from developing pneumococcal meningitis and pneumonia," he said at the 'Karnival Keluarga Sihat' as part of the YES to PnD Protection campaign organised by Parenting2U here at Desa Mentari.

Pneumococcal disease is an illness caused by bacteria called pneumococcus. It is often mild but can cause serious symptoms, lifelong disability, or death. Children younger than 2 years of age are among those most at risk for the disease.

Chen said despite Malaysia being placed third in the world for having the best and cheapest healthcare, the NIP has yet to be updated to the standards of the World Health Organisation (WHO).

He said he will wait for the Health Minister who is embroiled in the internal MIC party matter to resolve the problem first before he raises the issue with him.

He also stressed that the government should take cognizance of the matter and including the vaccine into the NIP.

There are many types of pneumococcal disease and symptoms depend on the part of the body that is infected.

Pneumococcal pneumonia (lung infection) is the most common serious form. It causes the victim to have fever and chills, cough, rapid or difficult breathing and chest pain while those with peumococcal meningitis, an infection of the covering of the brain and spinal cord will suffer stiff neck, fever and headache, Increased pain from bright lights and confusion.

According to data from WHO, PnD is the leading cause of vaccine-preventable death worldwide in children younger than 5 years, and is responsible for 1.6 million death each year throughout the world.

Influenza and pneumonia deaths in Malaysia is ranked sixth as the main cause of death, with PnD still unrecognised in Malaysia despite wide publicity.

Healthcare team from Assunta Hospital provided free health screenings, deworming, health talks and free PnD vaccine shots for children.

Founder of Parenting2U, Chan Li Jin said that they had initiated numerous activities to advocate for the inclusion of the vaccine into the NIP, but there has been a lack of interest and action from policy-makers.

He said the vaccine is currently optional with each vaccine costing between RM250-RM320 in hospitals and clinics.