Rwanda launches Rotavirus vaccine

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Staff writter

MUSANZE, May 25th, 2012 – The Government of Rwanda today announced the launch of the Rota virus vaccine as the 11th vaccine in the routine immunization system. This program is made possible due to the partnership between Rwanda and partners like the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI).

Diarrheal diseases are among the most common causes of morbidity and mortality in the world among children under five. World Health Organization estimates show that about 1.8 million of infants under five,  die as a result of diarrheal diseases.

Rota virus is the most common cause of severe diarrheal diseases among young children across the world. According to 2004 estimates by WHO, 527,000 children aged below 5 years die each year from vaccine preventable rotavirus infections and most of those children live in the developing countries. Rotavirus causes 25-50 percent of severe diarrhea worldwide and about 2 million are hospitalized for extreme dehydration.

In Rwanda, findings from the HMIS in 2008 show that diarrhea was the third leading cause of mortality after pneumonia and neonatal infections. In addition, data from the national referral laboratory at the University Hospital, Kigali (Sept 2010-April 2012) shows that rotavirus infections are prevalent, in fact of all stool samples collected for severe diarrhea cases, 30 percent were reported positive during this period.

“We are pleased to have the support of partners as we introduce this important initiative. We believe that more lives of our children will be saved as a result of this milestone achievement,” said Dr. Binagwaho, Health mister, in the press release sent to Great Lakes Voice.

Rwanda has decided to introduce this vaccine to the routine immunization program and since the national immunization program has extensive experience in new vaccine introduction, the government believes that the experience gained after introduction of pneumococcal and HPV vaccines will be used to maximize the chance of smooth roll out for rotavirus vaccine.

Currently, there 428,500 doses of Rotavirus vaccines worth $6,882,500, Rwanda co – financed $267,500 and rest was covered by GAVI.

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