Dr. Rana Hajjeh, Director of the Hib Initiative at Johns Hopkins University shared her views with Star Health in a telephone interview.
The Hib Initiative (www.hibaction.org) unites experts from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, the World Health Organisation, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and provides technical, coordination and communication support to countries making decisions regarding the use of Hib vaccine.
Dr. Rana commented, “Hib vaccine is a safe, effective and highly cost-effective intervention used for more than 18 years in developed and many developing countries. Where used routinely, it has virtually eliminated Hib disease.”
“Clearly, Hib vaccine will have a major impact in Bangladesh in the same way it has saved thousands of children in other countries. We are quite excited that it will save many lives in Bangladesh since there is huge population” she expressed.
Answering the question why this vaccine is being introduced after so many years, she figured out many reasons like gathering enough evidence regarding the disease, laboratory facilities for proper diagnosis, high expense of the vaccine, developing guidelines for the country, adequate facilities to store and transport the vaccine, trained healthcare professionals and so on.”
She was asked what will happen when GAVI will no longer financially support for this vaccine. She hoped that the cost of the vaccine will be reduced by that time. New companies are coming with the same products that will also contribute reducing the price. She recalled similar experiences in many other countries where Hib vaccine had been introduced.
Dr. Rana informed that they have initiative to monitor the impact of the vaccine. “We already have planned and taken initiative in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, ICDDR,B and some other institutions to conduct disease surveillance and vaccine effectiveness study,” she told.
Dr. Rana is very happy that the number of vaccine introducing country is increasing in the region. Last year Pakistan introduced the vaccine and India has agreed in principle to launch the vaccine shortly. When the vaccine will be widely used, the cost will automatically be reduced.
Source: The Daily Star, January 17, 2008