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RotaFlash: Rotavirus vaccines welcomed in Cameroon and Sierra Leone

4 April 2014

Please click RotaFlash for the full e-newsletter available online, which contains images and links to other resources.

New introductions signal continued progress in the fight against deadly diarrhea

Friday, March 28, 2014 heralded positive, hopeful progress in the fight against rotavirus with vaccine introductions in Cameroon and Sierra Leone. Cameroon and Sierra Leone are the 21st and 22nd GAVI-eligible countries and 15th and 16th countries in Africa to welcome rotavirus vaccines into their national immunization programs. GAVI has approved 11 additional African countries for rotavirus vaccine support including: Angola, Central African Republic, Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Eritrea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Madagascar, Niger, Togo, and Zimbabwe.

In Cameroon, First Lady Chantal Biya presided over the rotavirus vaccine launch ceremony, held in the capital city of Yaoundé, and administered the first vaccination:

In Sierra Leone, the Honorable Minister of Health Madam Miatta Kargbo administered the first dose of rotavirus vaccine to Isha Kamara in the town of Kambia:

Rotavirus is a substantial cause of child death and hospitalization in Cameroon and Sierra Leone
 
Both the francophone central African country of Cameroon and the Anglophone western African country of Sierra Leone bear heavy burdens of rotavirus diarrhea.
 
In Cameroon:
  • More than 5,800 children under age five die from rotavirus diarrhea annually.
     
  • One third of young child diarrhea-related hospitalizations are due to rotavirus.
 
For more information on rotavirus in Cameroon, please see PATH’s Rotavirus disease and vaccines in Cameroon fact sheet available in English and French.
 
In Sierra Leone:
  • More than 2,000 children under age five die from rotavirus diarrhea annually.
     
  • One third of young child diarrhea-related hospitalizations are due to rotavirus. 

For more information on rotavirus in Sierra Leone, please see PATH’s Rotavirus disease and vaccines in Sierra Leone fact sheet available in English.

For more information on rotavirus vaccines generally, please visit PATH’s Rotavirus vaccine access and delivery website.

Perspective from Cameroonian pediatrician Dr. Clarisse Loe Loumou

Resting is not an option for Cameroonian pediatrician Dr. Clarisse Loe Loumou, tireless advocate for immunization. Rotavirus is a disease that has already done a lot of damage in Cameroon, and more than 15 years have passed since the first studies demonstrated the serious problem of rotavirus diarrhea. In honor of Cameroon’s rotavirus vaccine introduction last week, Dr. Loumou was inspired to write a blog, “Arrival of rotavirus vaccine in Cameroon: the end of the long wait.” This blog was a follow-up to a blog she authored in 2011, which celebrated the announcement of GAVI’s approval of rotavirus vaccine support for Cameroon and noted her desperation that thousands of children would unjustly die from rotavirus diarrhea while waiting for the vaccine to arrive.

In her current call to action, Dr. Loumou writes exuberantly, “Today, our children no longer have to wait: the vaccine is here at last. With this new vaccine, we are taking an important step towards reducing illness and death in our infants and young children. […] The introduction of rotavirus vaccines should not be another missed opportunity to boost our routine immunization program alongside regular vaccination campaigns. Resting is not an option; we must strengthen efforts to promote vaccination! We now have all the tools.”  

Dr. Loumou is the Founder and Vice President of Alternative Santé, a non-governmental organization whose mission is to facilitate better access to basic health for mothers and children through partnering with health centers, educating mothers, and reducing drop-out rates of immunization programs in various communities across Cameroon. She has been a member of the GAVI Civil Society Organization (CSO) Steering Committee since March 2010 and heads the newly created Francophone CSO Network for Vaccination and Immunization Advocacy.

PATH collaborates on rotavirus vaccine activities with the CDC, WHO, UNICEF, vaccine manufacturers, and countries around the world. RotaFlash is funded by the GAVI Alliance.

For information on rotavirus disease and vaccines and to access the RotaFlash archives, please visit the website. For information on diarrheal disease, please visit DefeatDD’s website. For information on the GAVI Alliance’s support for rotavirus vaccine introduction, please click here.


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