A new study from Bangladesh published in The Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal shows that routinely vaccinating infants against H. influenzae type b (Hib), a bacterium that causes deadly Hib pneumonia and meningitis, could save hundreds of thousands of children in Asia.
Results showed that routine immunisation of infants with a Hib conjugate vaccine prevented over one-third of life-threatening pneumonia cases and approximately 90% of Hib meningitis cases.
Although countries in Asia with high mortality rates have long known that pneumonia and meningitis are a significant concern, many assumed that Hib was not a major cause. This vaccine study builds the evidence of the real burden of Hib pneumonia and meningitis
The proportion of pneumonia and meningitis prevented by the Hib conjugate vaccine is significantly higher than what can be detected through routine surveillance.
“There has been an ongoing disagreement about the total burden of Hib pneumonia and meningitis in Asia, but our findings provide evidence challenging the commonly held notion that these diseases are rare in Asia,” said Dr Abdullah Baqui, Associate Professor, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, USA. “Our research shows that routine Hib vaccination is a feasible and highly effective way of preventing death related to Hib pneumonia and meningitis and could save the lives of a significant number of Asian children who die under the age of five.”
“Bangladesh views Hib vaccine as an integral tool in our mission to improve child survival in Bangladesh,” said Dr. Md. Abdul Quader Mian, Deputy Director EPI and Programme Manager Child Health & LCC, Ministry of Health, Bangladesh.
The study was conducted by researchers from International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh (ICDDR,B), Dhaka Shishu Hospital and John Hopkins University. The vaccine used in the study replaced the routine diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (DTP) vaccine with a DTP-Hib combination. The combination vaccine did not require additional injections or visits to benefit from the expanded protection.
The WHO recommends that all countries adopt Hib vaccine into routine child immunisation programmes.
Source: The Daily Star, January 17, 2008