A disease of the children that can easily be prevented
Rotavirus is one of the several viruses known to cause a self-limited gastroenteritis, better known as diarrhoea. Fluid stool losses may be dramatic, and death from dehydration is not uncommon, particularly in developing countries like Bangladesh.
There are dramatic reductions of diarrhoeal deaths among children under five, through providing oral rehydration solution (ORS), increasing access to clinical facilities, and improving water and sanitation programmes. However, too many children still suffer growth and cognitive impairments from serious and repeated diarrhoeal disease illnesses.
More emphasis needs to be given on preventive measures, particularly vaccine, and implementation of hygienic practices and sanitation facilities. Vaccines are the best way to prevent severe rotavirus infections and the deadly, dehydrating diarrhoea they can cause.
Bangladesh is a pioneer in inventing the life-saving oral rehydration saline (ORS) and many research on rotavirus diarrhoea have been conducted here. One of the eminent scientists in this sector is Dr. K. Zaman. He is a Senior Scientist and epidemiologist at the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research (icddr,b). He shared his views with Star Health on his works searching for solutions to deaths and hospitalisation from serious childhood diseases like Rotavirus diarrhoea.
He informed that the big indicator for improved health in Bangladesh is a remarkable reduction of child death rate. This has been possible due to a strong Government commitment, strong health care system, successful implementation of EPI vaccine, improving nutritional status, and improvement of safe water supply and sanitation with health awareness initiative.
As introduced recently of pneumonia and inactivated polio vaccine, he wishes that rotavirus vaccine would be introduced in Bangladesh EPI programme by 2018 so then we can avoid at least 3,000 diarrhoeal death in each year.
He said that India has already launched rotavirus vaccine on March 9, 2015. Rotavirus vaccine has been licensed in more than 130 countries and 90 countries introduced it in their national EPI programme. As a native country, Bangladesh can learn the recent experience from India how they are gradually incorporating this vaccine in different states in the EPI programme.
Citing the country experience, Dr. Zaman opined that Bangladesh can be a role model for other Asian and Africa countries as we have very successful EPI programme with vaccine coverage about 93%. This includes vaccine supply and storage, maintenance of proper cold chain and building awareness, among communities including hard to reach area, proper recordings, media and NGO's engagement etc.