Improving immunization coverage and introducing a rotavirus vaccine could significantly alleviate the physical and financial costs associated with vaccine-preventable diseases in India, according to a new study.
Vaccine-preventable illnesses are a major cause of child deaths in India, which has the highest number of under-five deaths in the world. While India has had a Universal Immunization Program (UIP) in places since 1985, providing vaccines for a number of common diseases, only 53.5% of children were fully vaccinated in 2007 a number that falls far short of the 90% target set by UNICEF.
The study, carried out by researchers from the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics and Policy (CDDEP) and the Public Health Foundation of India, used a simulated model of the Indian population and health system to determine how different interventions would affect the disease and financial burden of vaccine-preventable diseases. They found that scaling up immunization to 90% in targeted areas with low baseline vaccine coverage could significantly decreases the number of deaths and greatly lowers out-of-pocket household expenditure.
"Considering the high rate of child mortality from vaccine-preventable diseases, this study highlights the tremendous benefits of the scaling up the current vaccines and introducing a new rotavirus vaccine in India," said CDDEP Fellow Arindam Nandi, an author of the study.
Indeed, the results showed that the introduction of a rotavirus vaccine could prevent nearly 35 deaths and $215,569 in out-of-pocket expenditure per 100,000 children. The value of this particular vaccine has not been lost on the Indian government, which decided to add a rotavirus vaccine to the offerings of the UIP prior to the publication of this study.
"Among other works, the findings in this analysis were presented to support that decision," said CDDEP researcher Itamar Megiddo.
This study could lay the groundwork for further research into vaccine interventions in India and other developing countries. However, as Nandi highlighted, studying the effects of vaccination programs only tells part of the story; more research into the delivery of the vaccines is needed to ensure the efficacy of these programs.
It is extremely important to learn more about the delivery mechanisms and costs, he said. Without a strong and sustainable delivery chain, the effectiveness of the national immunization program will be low.
To learn more about the study or to speak to one of the researchers, please contact:
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