What Will Make Vaccines Work Better in Developing Countries?

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

For Mohommad Mustakim, the risk of diarrhea is everywhere. The 4-year-old and his family live in a crowded slum in Dhaka, Bangladesh, where open sewage and poor sanitation increase the spread of diarrhea-causing viruses and bacteria.

Rotavirus is the most common cause of severe diarrhea in young children worldwide, and in Bangladesh it kills nearly 6,000 children younger than 5 every year. In Pakistan, the infections kill an estimated 23,000 children a year. In India, the estimate is 78,000.

Although a rotavirus vaccine is one of the recommended childhood immunizations in countries like the United States, where the disease is responsible for only 20 to 60 deaths a year, it is not a routine immunization in many countries with a high burden of disease, including Bangladesh, Pakistan and India. Parents can pay for it themselves, but for many, it’s too expensive.

But Mohommad was supposed to have an advantage. When he was a baby, he was one of 350 infants who received the same highly effective rotavirus vaccine that’s standard in the United States. Researchers followed the children for five years to see how well it protected them. Nasima Begum, Mohommad’s mother, did not hesitate to take part in the study.

Source: CNN (link opens in a new window)

Health Care
infectious diseases, vaccines