Yangon, February 1, 2020 – Today, Ministry of Health and Sports introduced the rotavirus and fourth dose of diphtheria-tetanus vaccinations into the routine immunization programme.
Approximately 453,000 children around the world die each year from rotavirus, the primary cause of severe diarrhea among children under the age of five years, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
In Myanmar, almost every child has rotavirus infection at least twice before five years old. Currently, between 35 to 60 per cent of severe diarrhea cases among children under one year old are induced by rotavirus. Giving rotavirus vaccine is the most effective way in preventing severe diarrhea caused by rotavirus.
“The Ministry of Health and Sports has decided to introduce the rotavirus vaccine, as the twelfth antigen, into the routine immunization programme starting from today, with the aim of reducing the mortality rate of children under the age of five and, consequently, the worries and costs to parents and the burdens on hospitals as well,” explained Dr. Myint Htwe, Union Minster of the Ministry of Health and Sports.
Dr. Stephan Paul Jost, WHO Representative to Myanmar elaborated, “Within Southeast Asia, Myanmar has one of the highest mortality rates from rotavirus diarrhea. WHO recommends that every country should give priority to include rotavirus vaccinations in their routine vaccination programme. The Rotarix® vaccine that is to be administered in Myanmar is a WHO-prequalified vaccine and rotavirus vaccines are currently being used in 96 countries.”
“Providing immunization services is one of the safest and least expensive methods to avoid unnecessary child deaths,” said June Kunugi, UNICEF Representative to Myanmar. “The introduction of new vaccines provides opportunities to reinvigorate the routine programme and strengthen disease prevention through immunization.”
Mr. Dirk Gehl, Senior Country Manager of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, said, “The Government of Myanmar will cover 12 per cent of the total cost of introducing the rotavirus vaccinations into the routine vaccination programme while Gavi will manage the remaining 88 per cent of the cost. We will continue conducting studies to establish how much the diarrhea rate drops after the rotavirus vaccinations have been introduced.”
To date, children in Myanmar have been given the five-in-one diphtheria-tetanus (DTP-HepB-Hib) vaccinations at two months, at four months and at six months of age. The DTP-HepB-Hib vaccine is a combination of vaccines to protect against infectious diseases such as diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, Hepatitis B and Haemophilus influenza type B.
Starting from February 1, 2020, children aged one and a half years old who have already received the first three doses of five-in-one (DTP-HepB-Hib) will be given a fourth dose of five-in-one (DTP-HepB-Hib), in order to enhance the duration of immunity.
Please visit the Expanded Programme on Immunization https://www.facebook.com/cepimyanmar.
For more information about the Central Expanded Programme on Immunization Campaign, please contact:
Dr. Htar Htar Lin, Deputy Director/ Project Manager, Central Expanded Programme on Immunization, Department of Public Health, Ministry of Health and Sports,
Ph: (067)-420925, firstname.lastname@example.org
UNICEF in Myanmar
UNICEF has been working with the Government and the people of Myanmar since 1950. In partnership with the Government and the civil society, UNICEF’s current focus of work aims at reducing child mortality, improving access and quality of education and protecting children from violence, abuse and exploitation.
For more information about UNICEF and its work in Myanmar: