BACKGROUND: Since 2000, the widespread adoption of pneumococcal conjugate vaccines (PCVs) has had a major impact in the prevention of pneumonia. Limited access to international financial support means some middle-income countries (MICs) are trailing in the widespread use of PCVs. We review the status of PCV implementation, and discuss any needs and gaps related to low levels of PCV implementation in MICs, with analysis of possible solutions to strengthen the PCV implementation process in MICs.
MAIN BODY: We searched PubMed, PubMed Central, Ovid MEDLINE, and SCOPUS databases using search terms related to pneumococcal immunization, governmental health policy or programmes, and MICs. Two authors independently reviewed the full text of the references, which were assessed for eligibility using pre-defined inclusion and exclusion criteria. The search terms identified 1,165 articles and the full texts of 21 were assessed for suitability, with eight articles included in the systematic review. MICs are implementing PCVs at a slower rate than donor-funded low-income countries and wealthier developed countries. A significant difference in the uptake of PCV in lower middle-income countries (LMICs) (71%) and upper middle-income countries (UMICs) (48%) is largely due to an unsuccessful process of "graduation" of MICs from GAVI assistance, an issue that arises as countries cross the income eligibility threshold and are no longer eligible to receive the same levels of financial assistance. A lack of country-specific data on disease burden, a lack of local expertise in economic evaluation, and the cost of PCV were identified as the leading causes of the slow uptake of PCVs in MICs. Potential solutions mentioned in the reviewed papers include the use of vaccine cost-effectiveness analysis and the provision of economic evidence to strengthen decision-making, the evaluation of the burden of disease, and post-introduction surveillance to monitor vaccine impact.
CONCLUSION: The global community needs to recognise the impediments to vaccine introduction into MICs. Improving PCV access could help decrease the incidence of pneumonia and reduce the selection pressure for pneumococcal antimicrobial resistance.
* Title and MeSH Headings from MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.