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RotaFlash: Rotavirus vaccine update

August 1, 2012

Yemen the first GAVI-eligible country in the Middle East to introduce lifesaving rotavirus vaccines

38 countries on 6 continents now offer rotavirus vaccines as part of national immunization programs

Today Yemen became the first GAVI-eligible country in the Middle East region to introduce rotavirus vaccines into its national immunization program, bringing to nine the total number of GAVI-eligible countries that now provide lifesaving rotavirus vaccines as part of routine childhood immunization: Nicaragua (2006), Bolivia (2008), Honduras (2009), Guyana (2010), Sudan (2011), Ghana (2012), Rwanda (2012), Moldova (2012), and Yemen (2012). Yemen’s rollout follows a successful introduction of pneumococcal vaccines with GAVI support in January 2011.


Diarrhea is one of the top killers of Yemeni children accounting for 11% of all under five deaths. Rotavirus, the leading cause of severe and fatal diarrhea worldwide, takes the lives of nearly 5,100 children under age five (an estimated 7.4% of under five deaths). Forty percent of all Yemeni children hospitalized for diarrhea have rotavirus, exacting a huge toll on the health system. Vaccines are the best way to protect children in Yemen and the rest of the world from severe rotavirus disease and the deadly dehydrating diarrhea that it causes.

Yemen’s rollout today comes soon after another GAVI milestone—the first introduction of rotavirus vaccines in a GAVI-eligible country in Europe—the Republic of Moldova—which commenced rollout on July 1, 2012. Armenia and Georgia—two other GAVI-eligible countries in the Eastern European region— are anticipated to roll out rotavirus vaccines in late 2012. By 2015, GAVI plans to support the vaccination of more than 50 million children with rotavirus vaccines in 40 developing countries.

July was a busy month for rotavirus prevention. Botswana and the Philippines, two countries that do not meet eligibility criteria for GAVI support, rolled out rotavirus vaccines on July 2, 2012. Botswana becomes the sixth country on the African continent to introduce rotavirus vaccines into its national immunization program, and the Philippines is the first country in southeast Asia. To date, 38 countries around the world now offer rotavirus vaccines as part of their national immunization programs.

Rotavirus vaccines are dramatically improving the health and well-being of children around the world by substantially reducing severe and fatal diarrhea. Policymakers, donors, and the global health community must work together to help overcome the challenges to getting rotavirus vaccines and other diarrheal disease interventions to all children worldwide.



PATH collaborates on rotavirus vaccine activities with the CDC, WHO, UNICEF, vaccine manufacturers, and countries around the world. RotaFlash is funded by the GAVI Alliance.

For information on rotavirus disease and RotaFlash, please email us. For information on diarrheal disease, please visit DefeatDD’s website. For information on the GAVI Alliance’s support for rotavirus vaccine introduction, please click here.

Banner photo courtesy of One: Living Proof.

Other photos (top to bottom): Doune Porter/GAVI/PATH/2011.


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