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Government finally moves to curb infant diarrhoeal deaths

by Mafu Sithabile
09 Jan 2014 at 13:43hrs | Views

The Government will this year, finally introduce a Rota Virus Vaccine to curb death of infants from diarrhoea.

The vaccine, according to the latest Bulawayo City Council report, will be administered to children beginning this month in the expanded National immunisation programme. Rota Virus causes diarrhoea.

It is estimated that 500,000 children, especially those under 10 years, die worldwide from diarrhoeal disease caused by the virus.

Government had said in 2011 that the Vaccine would be introduced in 2012. The local authority's director of health services Dr Zanele Hwalima reported the procedure of the introduction of the vaccine at a meeting.

"There will be an introduction of Rota Virus Vaccine in the Expanded Programme on Immunisation of Zimbabwe in January 2014. The vaccine would be administered to children at the age of 6 weeks and 10 weeks respectively together with other existing vaccines Route of administration was orally.

The rota virus vaccine protects against diarrhoea caused by the Rota Virus. The Rota Virus is the most common cause of severe diarrhoeal disease among infants and young children worldwide including Zimbabwe leading to high infant mortality rate," said Dr Hwalima.

She said the disease peaks during the winter season.

In June 2011, a severe bout of Rota Virus swept through the country, killing at least 14 children in Bulawayo during the month.

A Bulawayo paediatrician yesterday said a rotavirus vaccine protects children from rotaviruses, which are the leading cause of severe diarrhoea among infants and young children.

"Each year more than 500 000 children die from diarrhoeal disease caused by rotavirus and another two million are hospitalised worldwide.

"Nearly every child in the world will suffer an episode of diarrhoea caused by rotavirus before age five. Although the severity of rotavirus infections differs between children living in developed and developing countries, the rates of infection is similar in both settings," said the paediatrician.

The paediatrician said the A strain of rotavirus is the most common and causes more than 90 percent of infections in humans. On 5 June 2009, the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommended that rotavirus vaccine be included in all national immunisation programmes.

The symptoms of rotavirus infections include fever, vomiting, diarrhoea and abdominal pains.

Neighbouring countries like South Africa and Mozambique reportedly have been holding an annual rotavirus vaccination programme for children less than five years for more than five years.

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Source - Byo24News