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.
[Press release] New evidence on rotavirus vaccines in Asia demonstrates significant protection against the most common deadly form of childhood diarrhea
PATH, August 2010
Results from an unprecedented clinical study examining the efficacy of rotavirus vaccines in developing countries of Asia, and from a similar clinical study in Africa, were just published in The Lancet. The studies, which show the vaccines significantly reduced severe disease in low-income settings, contribute to a growing body of evidence demonstrating the potential lifesaving impact of rotavirus vaccines in the settings where they are needed most.
Results from an unprecedented clinical study examining the efficacy of rotavirus vaccines in developing countries of Asia, and from a similar clinical study in Africa, were published in The Lancet on August 5, 2010. The studies, which show the vaccines significantly reduced severe disease in low-income settings, contribute to a growing body of evidence demonstrating the potential lifesaving impact of rotavirus vaccines in the settings where they are needed most.
[News & Event] Burden of paediatric rotavirus gastroenteritis (RVGE) and potential benefits of a universal rotavirus vaccination programme with a pentavalent vaccine in Spain
BMC Public Health, August 2010
A recent study conducted in Spain found that the introduction of a rotavirus vaccine into routine immunization programs would reduce significantly the important medical and economic burden due to rotavirus infections in that country. This add to the growing evidence base that rotavirus vaccines should be included in the immunization programs in all countries.
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?
allAfrica.com, August 2010
Dr. Dorothy Esangbedo, National President of the Paediatrics Association of Nigeria (PAN), describes immunization as the biggest gift that can be given to mankind. She asserts that Nigeria must urgently double its routine immunization status in order to attract more international support, enhance child care, and reach MDG 4. She lists rotavirus vaccines as one important component that is missing from routine immunizations.
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.
Reuters Health Information, August 2010
A new study on Australia's infrant rotavirus vaccination program, launched in July 2007, shows that that the vaccines cut hospitalizations for rotavirus diarrhea by more than half in that age group. A reduction was evident even among older children who hadn't received the vaccine, probably due to herd immunity. Scientists reaffirm that rotavirus vaccines should be strongly recommended for developed and developing countries alike.