Saturday August 18, 2018

A Vaccine Against Pneumonia And Meningitis Saves Million Children

"far too many deaths , about 900 every day, are still being caused by these two infections."

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A child receives a meningitis vaccination at the community center in Al Neem camp for Internally Displaced People in El Daein, East Darfur, Oct. 8, 2012.
A child receives a meningitis vaccination at the community center in Al Neem camp for Internally Displaced People in El Daein, East Darfur, Oct. 8, 2012. VOA
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A vaccine against bacterial pneumonia and another against meningitis have saved 1.45 million children’s lives this century, according to a new study.

The diseases the vaccines prevent are now concentrated in a handful of countries where the medications are not yet widely available or were only recently introduced, the research says.

Pneumonia is the leading cause of death among children worldwide. The bacteria targeted by the shots, Haemophilus influenzae type b (known as Hib) and Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumococcus), are major causes of pneumonia and also cause meningitis. Together, the two bacteria claimed nearly 1.1 million lives in 2000, before the vaccines were widely available, according to the World Health Organization.

Vaccines against the bacteria are not new, but funding to provide them in low-income countries only became available recently.

A baby with parents
A baby with parents, Pixabay

To estimate their impact, the researchers started with country-by-country data from the WHO on pneumonia and meningitis cases and deaths, as well as vaccine coverage estimates. They factored in data from dozens of clinical studies on infections caused by the two bacteria to create estimates of illness and death from the diseases in 2000 and 2015.

They found deaths from Hib fell by 90 percent in 2015, saving an estimated 1.2 million lives since 2000. Pneumococcus deaths fell by just over half, accounting for approximately 250,000 lives saved.

The research appears in the journal The Lancet Global Health.

“What was interesting was to see the rate at which some of these deaths have been prevented in the last several years,” said lead author Brian Wahl at Johns Hopkins University, “largely due to the availability of funding for these vaccines in countries with some of the highest burdens [of disease].”

The study estimates that 95 percent of the reduction in pneumococcal deaths occurred after 2010, when 52 low- and middle-income countries began receiving funding from Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance, to introduce the vaccine into their national immunization programs.

“The good news is that the numbers are moving in the right direction,” wrote Cynthia Whitney at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in an accompanying editorial.

Pneumonia in child
Pneumonia in child, flickr

However, Whitney added, “far too many deaths — about 900 every day — are still being caused by these two infections.”

She notes that more than 40 percent of the world’s children live in countries where pneumococcal vaccine is not a routine childhood immunization.

Many of the countries with the largest number of deaths from these two bacteria have recently introduced the vaccines, but coverage is uneven.

India, Nigeria, China and South Sudan had the highest rates of death from Hib, the study says. All but China have introduced the vaccine in the past few years.

Half of the world’s pneumococcal deaths occurred in just four countries: India, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Pakistan. All have recently introduced the vaccine, though in India it is a routine immunization in only three states.

Also read:AI tool accelerate diagnosis eye diseases

Lowering the global burden of these diseases will depend on improving coverage in these countries, the study says. (VOA)

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Tdap Vaccinations Do Not Pose a Risk of Autism

The link between vaccination and development of autism has been refuted by many rigorous scientific investigations. Unfortunately, the misconceptions still generate concerns.

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Prenatal Tdap vaccination does not increase autism risk: Study
As the mPFC is crucial for high-level cognitive functions, reduced cognitive flexibility is observed in developmental disorders such as autism. Pixabay

Administering Tdap vaccination — tetanus, diphtheria, acellular pertussis — to pregnant women may not increase children’s risk of developing autism spectrum disorder, claims a study of more than 80,000 children born.

The study showed that the autism spectrum disorder rate in children was 1.5 per cent in the maternal Tdap vaccinated group and 1.8 per cent in the maternal unvaccinated group.

“Infants are at the highest risk of hospitalization and death among any population subgroup after contracting a pertussis infection, a highly contagious respiratory disease also known as the whooping cough,” said lead author Tracy A. Becerra-Culqui, a post-doctoral research student at Kaiser Permanente- a US-based health care company.

there is no indication of an increased risk of autism spectrum disorder in children after being exposed prenatally to the Tdap vaccine
There is no indication of an increased risk of autism spectrum disorder in children after being exposed prenatally to the Tdap vaccine.

“Pregnant women can be reassured by this study that there is no indication of an increased risk of autism spectrum disorder in children after being exposed prenatally to the Tdap vaccine,” Becerra-Culqui added.

The study, published in the journal Pediatrics, looked at the autism diagnosis for nearly 82,000 children.

The Advisory Committee on Immunisation Practices, which provides guidance on the use of vaccines for the US, recommends pregnant women receive the Tdap vaccine to prevent pertussis infection, but some women still hesitate.

Also Read: Obesity During Pregnancy May up Kid’s Risk of Epilepsy

“The link between vaccination and development of autism has been refuted by many rigorous scientific investigations. Unfortunately, the misconceptions still generate concerns,” the researchers said. (IANS)