A Leading Killer
Pneumococcal disease is a leading killer of both children and adults worldwide. It is caused by a common bacterium, the Streptococcus pneumoniae or pneumococcus. Infection can result in pneumonia and infections of the brain and blood. An estimated 1.6 million people die annually from the disease, including up to 1 million children under 5 years of age.
The most effective way to prevent pneumococcal disease is through vaccination. Vaccines provide immunity against some of the 90+ strains (or serotypes) of pneumococcus. In 2000, a 7-valent conjugate vaccine (PCV) was introduced in the U.S. for infants and young children and has since been adopted by many industrialized countries. The vaccine, which protects against the seven most common serotypes in North America, has proved highly effective in reducing the incidence of severe pneumococcal disease among children under age five. As a result, many developing countries have expressed interest to Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance in adopting the vaccine.
However, current PCVs are not effective against some of the serotypes that are associated with invasive pneumococcal disease in low-income countries, including ones that are common in older children, working age adults (18-64 years of age), and the elderly. Vaccines that contain additional serotypes are thus being developed to expand protection for children and adults in low-income countries, where most pneumococcal deaths occur.
The Need for Disease Burden Data in Africa
Before vaccine introduction, it is important to conduct surveillance to assess the burden of pneumococcal disease. This information is necessary to identify the potential value of the vaccine and to monitor the future impact of vaccination. Yet, quality surveillance data on pneumococcal disease is largely unavailable in most regions of Africa. This is due to the complexity of diagnostic methods, which are a challenge for most routine surveillance systems.
PneumoTone: A study to estimate the burden of pneumococcal disease in northern Togo
In this context, AMP is working with the Togolese Ministry of Health to conduct a surveillance study, called “PneumoTone,” in the Tône district of northern Togo. The purpose is to identify patterns in disease characteristics such as age and serotype distribution. This data will enable Togolese health authorities to make informed decisions concerning the choice of vaccine strategy. It will also provide the first population-based estimates of pneumonia burden in the African meningitis belt.
Renewed for a period of 3.5 years through funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, phase 2 of the PneumoTone project (PneumoTone 2) began in 2014 using data collected during phase 1,
PneumoTone 2 aims to evaluate the impact of PCV13 on pneumococcal and meningococcal diseases on all age groups in the Tône district in Togo after vaccine introduction.