Asian Correspondent, September 2012
Leading rotavirus expert Dr. Tony Nelson discusses the potential of rotavirus vaccines to protect Asia's most vulnerable children.
At the highest levels, the US Government is taking a close look at what brings the greatest return on its investment in foreign aid.
We agree with the Global Health Technologies Coalition (GHTC) that the best investment is a health investment.
An alliance of more than two dozen non-profits, the GHTC is at its heart an educator, bringing evidence and expertise to US policymakers about the innovations that will change the face of health worldwide—innovations like new vaccines, microbicides, drugs, and diagnostics that will make their greatest impact in poor countries where health is a right, but not always a reality.
Rotavirus – a word maybe heard in a doctor’s office.
Antibodies. Immune response. For many of us, such scientific terminology is cold and sterile; something that only people who have spent years in medical school easily understand. So it is no wonder that when researchers report that double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized clinical trials have demonstrated the efficacy of rotavirus vaccines in impoverished countries, many ask, “OK, but what does that mean for me?”
[Blog post] The Most Important Question in Global Child Health Today: Why are 3 Million Children Dying from Two Diseases we know how to Prevent and Treat?
One of the biggest challenges in global health is matching resources to the areas where the most lives can be saved.
It is a very serious problem, because resources are always scarce, and when they are not targeted to those areas where the most good can be done, the opportunity cost is measured in lives lost. No single issue frustrates me more than this one, because it is a failure of information, easily corrected, that is causing millions of human lives, mostly children under 5, to be lost every year.
In a hot, dry town in Ghana called Navrongo, a group of mothers gathered one day last year at a health clinic.
The mothers – about 30 of them – had traveled on foot and by bicycle, carrying their young children, to meet with the doctors and health workers overseeing a vaccine trial for an illness called rotavirus in which their children were participating.
It’s a leading cause of death amongst children under five. The virus claims the lives of more than 500,000 children each year and causes the hospitalization of millions more.
Almost half of the 500,000 lives lost are African children, and six of the seven countries with the highest infant mortality rates from rotavirus are in Africa. Yet only one African nation, South Africa, has introduced rotavirus vaccine into its national immunization program. Just 2 percent of the continent has access to rotavirus vaccines; how can this be?
It is hardly a month since the football frenzy ended, vuvuzelas were stored away, and South Africa could proudly say it was the first African nation to host the World Cup. South Africa boasts other firsts.
It is the first African nation to host an International Rotavirus Symposium and the first sub Saharan country to include rotavirus vaccine in its Expanded Program of Immunization (EPI). This two day symposium, which ends on August 3, 2010, brings together scientists, clinicians, public health and immunization professionals, vaccine industry representatives and implementing organizations to discuss latest research results, clinical trials and new vaccine approaches.
To the parents of a child who just received a potentially lifesaving vaccination against rotavirus, the molecular biology behind that vaccine may not get much consideration.
Even the medical teams administering vaccinations might not be tuned in to these kinds of minute details. After all, if the vaccine works, isn’t that what matters?
A cure for cancer. A way to eradicate polio. A vaccine against HIV.
These are just a few examples of desperately needed medical breakthroughs. Yet, despite strong support from both scientific and political communities, progress towards these goals, along with many others, has been slow. So, when a much needed breakthrough becomes available in record time (at least by global health standards), it’s cause not only for celebration, but for decisive action to ensure that we take full advantage of the opportunity to save millions of lives around the world.