Cameroon Introduces Vaccine to combat Rotavirus

Rotavirus

Rotavirus

Another vaccine will be introduced into the routine vaccination calendar in Cameroon as from Tuesday April 1st 2014. The vaccines will prevent diarrhoea in children caused by the Rotavirus.

Rotavirus is the most common cause of severe diarrhoea among infants and young children. An estimated 50 – 60 children less than one year old die from diarrhoea caused by the rotavirus each year in Cameroon.

The Rotavirus is spread from infected children to healthy ones through hands and objects contaminated with stool from infected person. Signs and symptoms of the disease include very high fever, vomiting, diarrhoea and loss of appetite and weight. There is no treatment against rotavirus as of now, but vaccines are very effective against it.

Dr. Sama Julius, Regional chief of Unit for the Expanded Program for Immunization (EPI) speaking at a training session for journalists in Bamenda on Wednesday 26 March, said the vaccine known as ‘Rotarix’ will be included in the routine vaccination calendar in all health units across Cameroon as from April 1, 2014 and is given free of charge in two does, the first at 6 -12 weeks of age and the 2nd dose from the 10-24 weeks of age and is given to children by mouth.

Dr. Sama Juluis-Chief of EPI-NWR

Dr. Sama Juluis-Chief of EPI-NWR

Shantal Biya, Cameroon’s first lady officially launched the introduction of the vaccine at a ceremony in Yaoundé last Friday, attended by UN, GAVI, WHO, and UNICEF country representatives.

Northwest Governor, Adolph Lele L’Afrique picked the cue in the regional launch last Friday in Nkambe, Donga Mantung Division, where he urged parents and guardians to vaccinate their children against these preventable diseases which the government of Cameroon and its partners have put in alot financially to make it available to all the children at no cost. He emphasized that vaccines remain the best form of prevention against these diseases.

Speaking at an advocacy meeting with some major stake holder in Bamenda today, the Regional Delegate for Public Health Northwest, Dr. Ndiforchu Victor said the rotavirus can be avoided if we maintain basic hygiene. The Rotavirus vaccine will be synchronized with other EPI interventions like DPT I and II under the routine vaccination calendar. He further said the Rotavirus vaccine has came to add to the 10 already available vaccine preventable diseases covered under the EPI.

Dr. Ndiforchu at an advacacy meeting today

Dr. Ndiforchu at an advacacy meeting today

 

The EPI intervention which targets mostly children below one year and pregnant women present administer vaccines against tuberculosis, poliomyelitis, diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, viral hepatitis B, measles, yellow fever, infections due to haemophilus influenza type B, infections due to pneumococcus (meningitis, pneumonia, otitis, sinusitis, and bronchitis) and today Rotarix against the Rotavirus that causes the most severe form of diarrhoea in children. The EPI also includes the administration of Vitamin A to booster the immunity of the targeted group. Other interventions include intermittent preventive treatment against malaria in pregnant women and the deworming of children below five years.

As from April 1, 2014, health personnel across Cameroon will begin administering the rotavirus vaccine to the targeted group alongside the other vaccines according to the routine calendar of each health units. Officials of the Public Health ministry say the vaccines are already available in all health units both public and private across the national territory.

 

By Abongwa Fozo.

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