Asia Fails to Take Up Rotavirus Vaccine

Guest Post 

Written By: Paige Taylor

Unlike countries from other continents and despite the recommendation of the World Health Organization (WHO), most Asian countries have failed to institute the rotavirus vaccine in their National Immunization Program Schedules (NIPS). The rotavirus which is highly contagious causes severe diarrhea and vomiting. In turn, diarrhea and vomiting cause dehydration and potentially death, especially in young children who are most affected by rotavirus.

WHO recommends timely vaccinations to ward off the effect of the rotavirus illness, which causes need for hospitalization. WHO states that rotavirus is the number one cause of severe diarrhea in small children. It is so severe that 500 thousand children ages 5 and under worldwide die from it each year. Children that are 6 months to 2 years old are highly likely to catch the rotavirus as they are more vulnerable to infection overall. Of all childhood deaths from the effects of diarrhea, the rotavirus accounts for 37 percent of those worldwide. However, 95 percent of those deaths occur in developing countries.

Once a person catches rotavirus, there are no drugs to lessen its effects and there aren’t any antibiotics to effectively treat it. Rotavirus is treatable by ingesting salts and fluids; however, for those who are not able to access medical care, the rotavirus can result in death. The most effective treatment is to get a rotavirus vaccination, which WHO has recommended since 2009.

The idea behind the vaccine is to lessen the symptoms and the effects of rotavirus. This in turn preserves hydration in young children. In addition, the first infection of rotavirus is usually the worst, which is what makes the vaccine so important. In Asia, children ages 5 and under that are admitted to the hospital due to diarrhea usually have rotavirus. An additional 188 thousand children 5 and under die yearly from rotavirus.

Only 2 Asian countries—Thailand and the Philippines—have agreed to administer rotavirus vaccinations. The Philippines recently began administering the rotavirus vaccine; however, it is unclear whether Thailand has begun.

Several countries worldwide have instituted rotavirus vaccines in their NIPS. 4 of the 41 countries that administer the rotavirus vaccine are African: Ghana, Rwanda, Botswana and Sudan. These countries practice using an oral form of the rotavirus vaccination. The lack of vaccination provision by many Asian countries is attributed to cost. However, with what stands to be gained by a simple precautionary measure could potentially save thousands yearly.

Written By: Paige Taylor writes for A Forever Recovery to help people struggling with health issues.

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