Monday, December 19, 2005

"Lives Lost As Vaccine Programs Face Delays: Efforts to Get Medicine To Poor Children Falter"

Read the full article by Justin Gillis in the Washington Post. (December 19, 2005)

"Companies have developed two vaccines that theoretically could save the lives of several million children over the next decade, but efforts to get them to the poor countries that need them most are lagging.

"One vaccine, which protects against a life-threatening form of pneumonia, has been available to children in the United States for five years and has had a dramatic impact on disease here. The other, a vaccine that protects against a deadly form of diarrhea, is poised for a rollout soon among middle-income countries in Latin America.........

"The efforts have faltered amid a dizzying array of snafus, misjudgments and business difficulties. One company cannot produce enough vaccine, and studies needed to support widespread use of another have been slowed by behind-the-scenes squabbling. The problems have proved so vexing that the vaccines are expected to take an additional three to five years to reach the poorest villages."

The Diseases


* Is an intestinal germ that is, worldwide, the most important cause of severe diarrhea in early childhood.

* Causes many hospitalizations but few deaths in wealthy countries.

* Is estimated to kill 440,000 every year, mostly young children in poor countries.


* Is a germ that can cause pneumonia, ear infection and brain inflammation, especially in young children and people with weakened immunity.

* Kills people in wealthy countries but disease rates are falling due to a vaccine.

* Has a vaccine not widely used in poor countries.

* Kills an estimated 1.6 million people every year; nearly half are young children.

SOURCES: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, World Health Organization via the Washington Post

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