AVA- “I would like to share the great news of introduction of the 13th antigen in our routine immunization program. From today, onward Rota vaccine will be added to our immunization program against fatal diarrheal diseases caused by rotavirus,” he told a gathering marking the launch of Rota Vaccine here.
The minister said In order to introduce Rota vaccines two conditions must be fulfilled, first expansion of its could chain capacity and provision of financial share in the form of co-finance to the GAVI.
Ministry of public healthy in close cooperation with its partners WHO and UNICEF had expanded cold chain capacity in the country, he said.
In additional Ministry of Finance, given the annual population growth has committed to provide 20 cents per each dose to GAVI annually.
“The estimated cost of each dose of Rota vaccine costs $2.19. The Rota vaccine has already been distributed to health facilities across the county and will be available beside other vaccine in the routine immunization schedule from today.”
The health minister thanked, GAVI. WHO, UNICEF and other health partners on behalf of millions children and mothers for providing them continue support, in additional, “I am sure this support will many lives.”
UNICEF Representative in Afghanistan Adele Khodr commended the Ministry of Public Health of the government of Afghanistan for introduced several new vaccines to expend the number of preventable childhood diseases covered under routine immunization programme.
She said diarrheal diseases have been one of the leading causes of childhood mortality and hospital admissions in children under age five years in Afghanistan.
“The death toll from rotavirus infections in the development world in enormous. It infects nearly every child in this country before the age of five causing severe, dehydrating diarrhea,” said Khodr.
Rotavirus vaccination, coupled with hand-washing with soap, drinking potable water and using latrines, has the potential in Afghanistan to avert more than one million diarrhea cases, 660,000 outpatients visits and approximately 50,000 hospital admission over a period of 10 years.
UNICEF would continue to collaborate with the government, development partners and donors to work toward strengthening of routine immunization, so that every child in Afghanistan has the chance to grow up healthy and reach their full potential.
Rota virus kills about 215,000 children globally each year and send hundreds of thousands more to hospital, according to Estimates of Rotavirus Mortality in Children under the age of five, international studies show.
According to Lois Privor-Dumm, Director, Policy, Advocacy & Communications, International Vaccine Access Center, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, the rotavirus vaccine had a strong safety record and had been studied in every region of the world.
“Side-effects are rare, usually mild, and may include fussiness, fever, and diarrhea. The vaccine is given orally -- drops into an infant’s mouth, which alleviates concerns some may have about additional injections” she said.
“Because diarrhea is such a significant issue for families, the expectation is that acceptance will be high. That may also help with other vaccines. Awareness campaigns are planned around launch to build demand and there are efforts to sensitize religious leaders, teachers and frontline health workers to build confidence in vaccines,” said Lois.
“It is a process to engage families and those that influence them, but through informing them about the value of vaccines and addressing concerns, families begin to see the benefit and allow their children to be vaccinated as they are doing for polio vaccine,” she added.
One of the benefits of the rotavirus vaccine being introduced in Afghanistan was that it only required two doses.
“Many vaccines require 3 doses, but this was selected to help address concerns that parents don’t often bring children back for the third dose – now they can get good protection with only two doses,” said Lois.
Dr. Ghulam Dastagir Nazary, National EPI Manager/Ministry of Public Health, said the vaccine was given through oral route at sixth, 10 week to all under one children.
According Nazary, the vaccination reduces diarrhea among children by 30 percent and the Rota vaccination has no side-effect.
The vaccination can be provided to children in normal circumstances as other vaccines. Rotavirus killed around half million children annually, however, introduction of Rota vaccine has reduce mortality in this age group.
Evidence indicated mortality of 215,000 under five children in 2013, according to the World Health Organization (WHO) and 2/3 of these children from developing countries, including Afghanistan.
Sharifa Yaqoub, the resident of Khair Khan Locality in capital Kabul, expressed delight over the induction of Rota vaccine in the country.
Sharifa, who has four children, said she had not information about the vaccine but added that if it proved effective in the prevention of diarrheal disease so that would help save the lives thousands children especially in the rural areas where medical facility are not available.