A pulmonologist and public health medical consultant, Prof. Olufunke Adeyeye, says that pneumococcal disease is not receiving the necessary attention, despite the challenges that arise from the burden of the disease.
Adeyeye, Professor of Medicine at Lagos State University (LASUCOM) College of Medicine, Ikeja, had this to say during a virtual meeting on adult vaccination recently.
Pneumococcal diseases are bacterial infections caused by ‘Streptococcus pneumoniae’ and can affect the lungs and other parts of the body.
It is one of the leading causes of serious illness worldwide, with infection causing pneumonia, meningitis, and bloodstream infection (sepsis).
Adeyeye pointed out that pneumococcal diseases are public health problems worldwide and one of the main causes of morbidity and mortality.
He said data from the World Health Organization (WHO) revealed that 10 countries in Africa and Asia were among those with the highest number of pneumococcal infections globally.
The professor noted that the data showed that Nigeria accounts for five percent of the total cargo, ranking third after India and China.
According to her, the population of Nigerians affected by pneumococcal disease is concerning, noting that the infection leads to hospitalization, which has a significant economic impact on patients.
He said the disease could lead to meningitis, noting that eight out of nine people who have meningitis caused by pneumococcal bacteria die from the infection.
Adeyeye said that a significant proportion of pneumococcal disease mortality occurs among the elderly, especially those with comorbidities, noting that preventive measures should be intensified through pneumococcal vaccination in adults.
He noted that vaccines are readily available, noting, however, that data, funding, adequate awareness raising and mobilization need to be stepped up to improve vaccine uptake.
The professor also emphasized the need to erase the notion that vaccines were for children and pregnant women, noting that vaccinations are an important strategy that prevents people from getting sick.
In addition, Dr. Ogugua Osiogbu, a consultant physician, said adult vaccination was crucial and should be up-to-date, noting that immunity from childhood vaccines could wear off over time.
Osiogbu, head of the geriatrics unit at Abuja National Hospital, said that vaccination reduces the incidence of the disease among populations and the social and economic burden of the disease on communities.
“Each year, thousands of adults in Nigeria become seriously ill and are hospitalized due to illnesses that vaccines can help prevent.
“Many adults even die from these diseases. It is heartbreaking to see young Nigerians dying from liver disease that could be prevented by the hepatitis B vaccine.
“A lot of people can help protect themselves from a lot of this unnecessary suffering,” he said.
It listed some adult vaccines to include hepatitis A and B vaccines, tetanus vaccine, meningitis vaccine, pneumococcal vaccine, human papillomavirus vaccine, among others.
According to her, vaccination is one of the most convenient and safe preventive care measures against diseases.
He called on all three levels of government to develop strategies to bridge the affordability gaps in adult vaccination to encourage more adults to get vaccinated.
According to her, this can be done through a national immunization program for adults, or vaccination coverage through the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).
Osiogbu noted that mass vaccination was critical to achieving Sustainable Development Goal 3, reducing unnecessary hospitalizations and helping people live longer and healthier lives.