Health Desk-- Dec 07, 2016: icddr,b and KOICA (Korea International Cooperation Agency) signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Tuesday at icddr,b for project titled “Maternal and Child Health Project in Bangladesh to Increase Influenza vaccine Immunization coverage for Pregnant Women and Children”.
According to a press release, Ahn Seong-doo, Ambassador of The Republic of Korea to Bangladesh, Joe Hyun-Gue, Country Director of KOICA Bangladesh Office and Prof John Clemens, Executive Director of icddr,b signed the agreement.
Joe Hyun-Gue, Country Director of KOICA Bangladesh Office emphasized that, “how the innovative structure of Korean Overseas Development Assistance allows for this sort of technology-based professional collaboration of international organizations with academic and corporate partners. As a result, KOICA will be collaborating with icddr,b for the first time and we are pleased to support this project that combines public-private and bilateral-multilateral collaboration.” KOICA will provide funding of over half a million USD for a joint icddr,b and KUMC (Korea University Medical Center) project to study the effectiveness of vaccinating pregnant women with the influenza vaccine.
The project seeks to improve health outcomes for mothers and their newborn children by reducing the likelihood of contracting influenza. The data resulting from this study will be shared with the international community to provide evidence for policy change and research into the reduction of child mortality. The long term aim of the project is to reduce mortality rate of newborns through vaccinating pregnant women.
This project will initially cover 10,000 people, however, the long term goal of the project is to facilitate the scale up at national level, which will result in vaccinating 4 million pregnant women annually in Bangladesh. The study will demonstrate the effectiveness of the vaccine and will be key in providing evidence to policy makers in Bangladesh and across the Global South that a national vaccination campaign can save lives.
Acute lower respiratory infections (ALRI), such as influenza, pneumonia and bronchiolitis are the leading cause of morbidity and mortality in children under five years of age. According to recent estimates, every year about 120–156 million cases of ALRI occur globally with approximately 1.4 million resulting in death. More than 95% of these deaths occur in low and middle income countries.
The KUMC-icddr,b Innovative Collaboration Project is designed to build on the evidence from a study reported in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) published in 2008. icddr,b has a history of rigorously testing the efficacy of many new vaccines for diseases that affect the poor including rotavirus vaccines, the Hib vaccine, a maternal pneumonia vaccine for protecting infants, and an affordable oral cholera vaccine.
Results have helped to shape Bangladesh’s Extended Programme on Immunisation and provided evidence to support vaccine use in other resource-poor settings. Green Cross, a Korean pharmaceutical company, will contribute to the collaboration by donating influenza vaccine for the study.
Furthermore, the study will be conducted in close collaboration with the Program of Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI) under the Directorate of Health Services, Government of Bangladesh.
Government EPI and icddr,b. Prof John Clemens, Executive Director of icddr,b expressed his sincere gratitude to the Korean Government and KOICA for their continuous support in the development of health sector in Bangladesh.