Saturday, August 19, 2017

Vaccines can stop Rotavirus deaths in children

Two out of every five diarrhea-related hospitalisations among children under five years of age are caused by the Rotavirus in Myanmar. It is not your typical “stomach bug” or “flu” bug.

According to Prof Saw Win, Vice-Chair of the National Committee for Immunization Practices, in Myanmar, diarrhea is a common disease found in children.

“Nowadays, death due to diarrhea in the country is down. But one in three children who come to a hospital or a clinic had a diarrhea related problem,”said Prof Saw Win.

The Ministry of Health and Sports is trying to introduce the Rotavirus vaccine for children in by the 2019.

Prof Saw Win said that the Rotavirus vaccine which is orally administered, is now available in the private market and a small number of parents have vaccinated their children against the Rotavirus.

“If we introduce the Rotavirus vaccine, it can sharply reduce the number of children hospitalised due to diarrhea,” he said.

In terms of percentage, the countries that had the highest number of children hospitalized for diarrhea in a WHO survey were:

Nepal 32 percent, Myanmar 52pc, Indonesia 52pc, Laos 58pc, Vietnam 61pc, and Cambodia 50pc.

The number hospitalisations among children under the age of five is estimated to be 38pc due to the Rotavirus and 62pc due to other causes of diarrhea, according to statistics released by the ROTA Council.

The ROTA Council is an international body that promotes the use of Rotavirus vaccines as part of a comprehensive approach to addressing the diarrheal disease.

Rotavirus is highly contagious, and every child is at risk. Infants and children under the age of two years face the greatest risk of infection.

The Rotavirus kills an estimated 525,000 children who are under five years of age in less developed countries where access to the vaccine is limited despite the fact that the medicine is safe, effective and can protect children against the disease.

It is often accompanied by fever, vomiting as well as diarrhea. Rotavirus is not the only cause of severe diarrhea, but it is one of the most common and serious.

Though the mortality rate due to diarrhea is far less today than in the past, diarrhea still remains a leading disease among children worldwide.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) website, diarrhea is the second leading cause of death among children under five years of age.

The Rotavirus is a virus that causes gastroenteritis, an inflammation of the stomach and intestines. It primarily infects the small intestines, destroying the surface tissue and preventing the absorption of nutrients, causing diarrhea.

While, mild to moderate dehydration caused by Rotavirus infection can be treated with oral rehydration therapy (ORT), children who develop severe dehydration often require intravenous fluids and hospitalisation.

Despite the fact that ORT is inexpensive and effective, many of the world’s poorest children do not have access to it.

ORT coverage is only about 30pc in many of the places where the most diarrhea deaths occur and without access to ORT or urgent medical care, severe Rotavirus infections can be deadly, according to the ROTA Council.

The benefits of vaccination are substantial and far exceed any low-level risks associated with the vaccination.

While most children do not experience any side effects following vaccination, there is a slight chance of minor symptoms, including diarrhea, vomiting, and irritability.

The worldwide mortality rate of Rotavirus diarrhea deaths by region is 33pc in Asia, 49pc in Africa, 18pc rest for the world.

Experts from the ROTA Council have urged to add the Rotavirus vaccines to national immunization programs to protect children from the disease.

Dr Mathuram Santosham, Chairman of the ROTA Council, said that the Rotavirus vaccine will protect children from the disease and now 85 countries have introduced the vaccines nationally.

He said that diarrhea still remains one of the leading causes of death among children.

Dr Mathuram Santosham was speaking at a workshop entitled “Rotavirus: Common, Severe, Preventable” which was conducted on the sidelines of the sixth Asian Vaccines Conference at the end of April in Singapore.

According to a ROTA Council press release, 70 percent of all infants lack access to the Rotavirus vaccine and less than 25 percent of infants in Gavi-eligible countries currently have access to the vaccine.

Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, is an international organisation that was created in 2000 to improve access to new and underused vaccines for children living in the world’s poorest countries and is based in Geneva, Switzerland

As of April 2016, the WHO estimates that globally 215,000 child deaths occurred during 2013 due to the Rotavirus infection compared to 528,000 in 2000.

The WHO recommends that the Rotavirus vaccines be introduced into every national immunisation program, particularly in countries where diarrhea is a leading cause of child deaths.

Prevention, protection, and treatment make up the framework of the Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Pneumonia and Diarrhea, a 2013 global plan from UNICEF and WHO that was endorsed by the ROTA Council.

Rotavirus causes from 30 to 60 percent of all under-five pediatric diarrheal hospitalisations in Asia but the death rate tends to be lower than in other high-burden regions.

And very few of Asia’s rapidly industrializing countries are still eligible for new vaccine co-financing support from Gavi.

According to a ROTA Council release, the Rotavirus vaccine is an oral vaccine and there are two WHO prequalified, orally administered vaccines available today.

These are Rotarix®, and RotaTeq®.

Good health and hygiene practices can help protect children from diarrhea such as breastfeeding for the first six months of a baby’s life and providing appropriate complementary feeding after six months.