RotaFlash, December 2013
In late November, Zambia expanded a pilot project that originated in Lusaka district...
It was just a conference room in Delhi, not the Taj Mahal by any means. No lapis lazuli or other luxuries. (Although many would consider the flush toilets, hot water, and soap in the bathrooms down the hall as luxuries).
Here scientists are going over the details of a clinical trial of a rotavirus vaccine under development. The discussions are very detailed, focusing on things like data management, lab analysis of virus serotypes, and statistical models. Everyone involved (the Indian company manufacturing the vaccine, government officials, international scientists, and PATH) is focused on making sure that the clinical trial will tell us with confidence whether this vaccine candidate will save lives.
What goes unsaid is why this matters so much. This group does not mention the death toll of diarrhea or the children who survive but suffer health and learning impairments for the rest of their lives, sabotaging their chances for succeeding in school and on the job. But that is the real reason for the meeting – not the statistics, lab samples, or data bases: the children whose can survive and thrive if this vaccine turns out to be effective.
Wouldn’t that be a wonder of the world?
-- Eileen Quinn, Communications Director for the Vaccine Development program at PATH
Photo credit: PATHRead more
Last month, I joined the international development community in celebrating the bipartisan introduction of the Senator Paul Simon Water for the World Act of 2012 in the House of Representatives. It is needed and smart legislation in its own right, but it’s also a response to the need to improve USAID’s implementation of the Senator Paul Simon Water for the Poor Act of 2005. Yet, the requirements of that landmark 2005 law still stand—and, if fully implemented, could make a bigger difference in the lives of poor people worldwide—regardless of what happens in Congress.
This month, WaterAid, Natural Resources Defense Council, and CARE released our fourth annual report on implementation of the Water for the Poor Act. This law has made a critical difference by establishing a new US foreign policy focus on water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) and helping to save countless lives, but problems with implementation remain. Central to these is the continued lack of a comprehensive strategy to guide the US’s approach to water programs, including household WASH, disaster response, water resource management, agriculture, and conservation.
Without a defined approach, programs can be ad hoc or poorly designed or targeted. A strategy gives accountability for meeting legal requirements to prioritize water, sanitation and hygiene, and integrate them with other sectors, such as HIV/AIDS, education, and economic empowerment.
For example, without a strategy, some USAID country programs may choose to work with the education sector to ensure latrines are at every school, whereas others may plan only one sector at a time, with little interaction across USAID bureaus or national government ministries. Or, USAID missions may direct funding to politically strategic regions that already have good WASH access, skipping nearby communities where poverty is greater and water and sanitation are sorely needed.
Since water, sanitation and hygiene impact so many areas of USAID’s work, a strategy that promotes attention to the links would increase the efficiency of US tax dollars and improve more lives.
A strategy creates oversight of USAID missions, who are responsible for identifying national priorities in collaboration with local government and civil society. USAID missions are inconsistent in their consultations with civil society and communities, yet it is these groups who really know what is needed and works best in their countries. By defining how to coordinate and collaborate, a water strategy would centralize responsibility for knowing how things are working and applying lessons accordingly. It would provide predictability in where the funding goes—critical for good planning—and enhance USAID’s own efforts to reduce poverty.
Six years after a comprehensive water strategy was mandated by law, there are indications that real work is underway, with the goal to finalize the strategy in the first half of 2012. This is welcome news—in principle. But a strategy written exclusively by people inside the US government may turn out to be business as usual.
-- Lisa Schechtman, Head of Policy and Advocacy, WaterAid in America
Photo credit: WaterAid / Zute LightfootRead more
One of the tools that will help us defeat diarrheal disease is vaccines – both the rotavirus vaccines that are licensed and the vaccines against bacteria that cause diarrhea that are still in development.
So it was heartening in 2010, when the global health community declared the next ten years to be the Decade of Vaccines with a vision to extend the full benefits of immunization to all people, regardless of where they are born, who they are, or where they live. Since then, the Decade of Vaccines (DoV) Collaboration is working to realize that vision by developing a global vaccine action plan (GVAP). The DoV Collaboration Leadership Council named a Steering Committee who has been leading the effort over the past year to develop the GVAP. Four Working Groups formed by the Steering committee have pulled together key information and transformational ideas to strengthen the full immunization chain over the next decade – all of which has been compiled into a draft of the GVAP. The development of the GVAP is a unique effort with an unprecedented emphasis on gathering country-led input and ownership. The end goal is to create a transformational plan that will stimulate the discovery, development and delivery of lifesaving vaccines.
Now, key stakeholders have the opportunity to provide input to the GVAP through a global consultation process, including an online consultation that will run until February 1, 2012. The feedback received through the online consultation and other outreach events will be incorporated into the draft of the GVAP that will be submitted to the World Health Assembly that will take place in May 2012.
To learn more about the DoV Collaboration and take part in the consultation process, please visit dovcollaboration.org.
Photo credit: PATHRead more
In November, while traveling for PATH’s Safe Water Project, I had the opportunity to link up with PATH’s Alfred Ochola in Kakamega to tour ORT corners in two area hospitals. Having never been to rural Kenya, nor to any medical facilities in the field, it was an exciting (albeit emotional) experience that gave me even further insight into the extreme importance of clean water.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), diarrheal disease is responsible for 1.3 million child deaths annually, with much of the cause stemming from unclean water.
Oral Rehydration Therapy (ORT) is a proven way to reduce the risk of death due to extreme dehydration from diarrhea. In Western Province, there are currently 86 revitalized ORT corners.
Roughly only half of the 86 have electricity.
The hospitals we visited report an average number 8-10 of ORT corner visits per day.
Community health workers prepare oral rehydration solution (ORS) for each patient when they come in.
In cases of severe dehydration, ORS may not be enough. 1-2 children are admitted to the pediatric ward each day to receive IV fluids.
Thankfully, most children that are seen are able to go home after receiving treatment at the ORT corner, a process that can take up to 4 hours.
Through efforts like PATH’s ORT corner revitalization and the Safe Water Project, the hope is to keep kids healthy – out of clinics and hospitals, and instead continuing to grow and thrive with their families, in school, and with each other.
-- Sara Watson, Safe Water Project, PATH
For more information:
-- How does ORT work?
-- VIDEO: Follow Alfred Ochola through Western Province in "A Cup a Corner, and a Community: Kenyans Working to Defeat Diarrhea."
-- PHOTOS: Thirsty for more ORT? Check out our progress in Vietnam.
Photo credits: Sara WatsonRead more
In 2003, vaccines against rotavirus were poised to reach the global market, but surprisingly few people knew the virus’ name, let alone that it was the leading cause of severe diarrheal disease. “We’ve never heard of it,” ministers of health would say when PATH staff members like Evan Simpson began meeting with them to spread the word about the virus and new vaccines against it.