PETALING JAYA, July 5 – GSK is a science-led global healthcare company, delivering vaccines that help protect people at all stages of life. GSK’s new purpose is to unite science, technology and talent to get ahead of disease together by prioritising innovation in vaccines and specialty medicines to prevent and treat diseases. Through this strategy, GSK aims to positively impact the health of more than 2.5 billion people over the next ten years. GSK conducted a knowledge sharing session today to educate Malaysians on the importance of immunisation through vaccinations.

Upon recognising the need for a comprehensive understanding of vaccine-preventable diseases (VPDs) in the country, the session shed light upon the prevalence of VPDs in Malaysia and the reality of the situation on the ground. The session also addressed how the country may tackle pre-conceived notions and scepticism surrounding vaccines that have been embedded in the minds of many people over the years.

Dr. Thanabalan Fonseka, Vaccines Medical Director at GSK Malaysia, spoke about the importance of vaccination as a foundation of building up immunity against VPDs, especially for infants and young children. He said, “Vaccination does indeed provide considerable benefits to individuals and society. It continues to provide protection to our children against some diseases, by strengthening their immunity from birth. However, a change in demographics and a shift in disease burden to adults in some diseases calls for new vaccination strategies.

To address this gap, there is now a need for life course immunisation strategies which recognizes the role of immunisation to prevent diseases and maximize health over one’s entire life, regardless of individual’s age. GSK works with healthcare professionals and medical institutions across the country to make sure all individuals, as well as community leaders know how important it is that everyone receives their vaccine”. The National Immunisation Programme (NIP) was designed based on the World Health Organization (WHO) Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI) in 1974, which initially recommended immunisation against 6 diseases.

However, like most countries, Malaysia has expanded its NIP to 12 major childhood VPDs, some of which are Haemophilus influenzae type B, Hepatitis B and pertussis. Despite the Immunisation Schedule of the NIP in Malaysia being provided free of charge in all government clinics and hospitals across the country, Malaysia has seen a rise in vaccine-preventable diseases over the last few years.

Dr. Yong Junina Fadzil, Consultant Paediatrician and Paediatric Cardiologist discussed the importance of immunisation in preventing vaccine-preventable diseases. During her presentation, she highlighted the incidence of pertussis, particularly neonatal pertussis and how maternal immunisation against pertussis can offer protection to this particular group of babies who are too young to be vaccinated yet are at high risk of contracting and suffering complications from the infection.

In addition to pertussis, Dr. Yong also touched on rotavirus infection and prevention. She said, “There is a common misconception that rotavirus infection only affects underdeveloped countries and dirty premises. This is untrue as outbreaks are seen in first world countries as well as well-managed pre-schools and nurseries as the virus is highly infectious.

Recently, GSK Malaysia launched the Protectors Malaysia website to inform and educate Malaysians on VPDs, how it spreads, their symptoms, their impact on health, and how to protect oneself from these diseases. Immunisation through vaccination is one of the best ways children and adults can protect themselves from potentially harmful diseases.

GSK Malaysia is a science-led global healthcare company with new ambitions and new purpose: to unite science, technology and talent to get ahead of disease together. Over the next ten years, it’s our ambition to positively impact the health of more than 2.5 billion people, to achieve a step change in growth for our shareholders and to make GSK a place where people can thrive – where they can succeed, grow and be happy at work.

Because what we do together at GSK has never mattered more. GSK supplies more than 20 vaccines to more than 120 countries to help protect people from a range of diseases throughout their lives. Our strong pipeline is underpinned by a broad portfolio of technology platforms, that will ensure we continue to deliver highly innovative vaccines,” said Mr David Lin, Director, Communications, Government Affairs & Strategic Customer Solutions, GSK Malaysia & Brunei.