Monday, March 01, 2010

New drug reduces infant deaths from diarrhea by 60 percent

A couple of new studies find that the drug Rotarix can reduce deaths amongst babies with diarrhea. The studies have raised hopes throughout Africa and other under-developed countries on improving survival rates from diarrhea. One of the studies in the New England Journal of Medicine found a 61 percent reduction in deaths for infants using the Rotarix vaccine.

From University World News, reporter Munyaradzi Makoni gives us more detail on the study results.

The research, published in December in the New England Journal of Medicine, reported on a clinical trial involving nearly 5,000 infants from high mortality, low-income settings in South Africa and Malawi. Its aim was to examine the efficiency of the vaccine among infants during the first year of life.

Rotavirus causes severe diarrhoea in children under the age of five in both developed and developing countries, and especially in Africa.

"The priority is to ensure that children in Africa, who account for 40% of the 530,000 deaths that occur annually from rotavirus, gain access to this life-saving vaccine," Professor Shabir Madhi, the clinical trial study author and a professor of vaccinology at University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) told University World News.

Sub-Saharan Africa has around 18% of the world's under-five population. "The expeditious introduction of rotavirus vaccine in Sub-Saharan African countries would therefore result in significant inroads being made in reducing under-five deaths and assisting countries in achieving the UN millennium developmental goal of reducing under-five mortality by two-thirds compared to 1990 levels," he said.

Madhi said that while progress in combating the illness was being made in South Africa, where the vaccine became available in the public immunization programme in 2009, the same is not true in other African countries.

No comments: