Children in Cameroon will receive protection against rotavirus diarrhoea, thanks to the introduction of rotavirus vaccines in Cameroon's routine immunization programme with GAVI Alliance support. Rotavirus, the most common cause of severe and fatal diarrhoea, takes the lives of almost 6,000 Cameroonian children under five every year.
The life-saving vaccine should have a dramatic impact on children's health as it is estimated that one-third of all under-five diarrhoeal disease hospitalisations in Cameroon are caused by rotavirus. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that rotavirus vaccines should be introduced as part of a comprehensive approach to prevent and control diarrhoea.
Speaking at the launch ceremony, Mrs. Najat Rochdi, the coordinator of the UN Systems in Cameroon, reiterated the fact that three out of the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are related to health; and vaccination is an essential corner stone. She further added that if every Cameroonian child is fully vaccinated with the recommended vaccines before his/her first birthday, Cameroon would have a greater chance of reaching MDG 4 which is to reduce child mortality.
"Immunization is one of the best investments that a country can make in the health and well-being of its children", said GAVI Deputy CEO, Helen Evans. "Cameroon's decision to protect its children against severe diarrhoea by vaccinating them against rotavirus will have a strong, positive impact on families and communities across the country."
"We know that by giving infants their doses of rotavirus vaccine early in life protect them against severe and fatal diarrhoea, underscoring the incredible potential for the vaccine to improve child health," said Dr Charlotte Faty Ndiaye, WHO Representative in Cameroon. "Achieving high vaccination coverage together with long-term sustainability of new vaccines introduced into national immunization programmes are crucial to sustain the gains in reducing child mortality."
UNICEF's Representative, Mrs Félicité Tchibindat issued an appeal to the parents and said that, "Rotavirus vaccine is a very effective way of protecting children against rotavirus diarrhoeal disease and can be used in addition to other general diarrheoa prevention methods including hand washing with soap, drinking potable water and using latrines. Vaccination is a children's right and it is important for parents to get their children vaccinated with the rotavirus vaccine in addition to the other 10 vaccines to ensure the survival and full growth of children."
Today's introduction reaffirms the support of the GAVI Alliance including the World Health Organization, UNICEF and partners to the Cameroonian government towards the goal of controlling vaccine preventable diseases in the country.
Cameroon is the 21st country to introduce rotavirus vaccines with GAVI Alliance support. The Alliance and its partners plan to support the introduction of life-saving rotavirus vaccines in more than 30 of the world's poorest countries by 2015.