Connecting the dots between vaccines and hunger

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

On Red Nose Day, we are reminded of the famine in Ethiopia that triggered the first Comic Relief, over 25 years ago. And as we reflect, we now know that the link between malnutrition and infectious disease makes for a particularly vicious circle.

A lack of nutrients can weaken the immune system, making it more vulnerable to infections and leading to diarrhoeal symptoms that inhibit the body’s ability to absorb nourishment. And this also works both ways, enabling infectious diseases to tip a child suffering from marginal nutrition into a state of malnourishment. For as many as 250 million children under the age of five this cycle is a reality and one which dramatically increases their risk of stunted growth, blindness and other forms of illness.

While there is now general agreement that tackling hunger and its causes is one of the most pressing development challenges, there is still little consensus on how best to achieve this. What’s more the role that immunisation has to play in breaking the infectious disease-malnutrition cycle seems largely overlooked.

Source: The Guardian (link opens in a new window)

Health Care
public health