By the end of this year, Guyana is expected to gain a place among the top-ranking countries of the world as it relates to its vaccination capabilities. To aid this auspicious move, the Ministry of Health will from the month of October introduce routine rotavirus vaccination.
At least this is according to Health Minister, Dr Leslie Ramsammy, who disclosed that within months the local Ministry of Health should have 15 vaccines in its routine vaccination programme.
Guyana’s vaccination programme, according to the Minister, will include all of the relevant vaccines, among them, all that are available for children.
“Many countries would say they have 100 percent coverage but they only have about four or five vaccines. We have all.”
However, he disclosed that one vaccine for children that is not available locally is the meningitis vaccine. He explained though that there is no need for the vaccine here as it is not a big issue in the Americas.
“The kind of meningitis that you have a vaccine for is not present in the Americas, it is in Africa. So there is no cost effective sense for us to have that vaccine.”
On the other hand, although Yellow Fever is not among the problems found in Guyana, the vaccine is still part of the local vaccination programme as it is present in the Region of the Americas, Dr Ramsammy disclosed.
Since 2001, the Minister had promised that he would introduce pneumococcus, rotavirus and HPV vaccines.
However, it was late last year that the local Health Ministry introduced the pneumococcus vaccine which is now well established here.
Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV) is the vaccine used to protect infants and young children against diseases caused by the bacterium Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumococcus). There are currently two PCV vaccines available on the global market: Prevnar (called Prevenar in some countries) and Synflorix.
The Ministry had also engaged studies on the rotavirus vaccine and has since completed same, Minister Ramsammy divulged.
“Because of supply problems, some countries that want to introduce it are having problems.
But I am really happy that Guyana has been approved and we will do our routine rotavirus vaccination beginning in October.”
The rotavirus vaccine protects children from rotaviruses, which are the leading cause of severe diarrhoea among infants. Each year, more than 500,000 children die from diarrhoeal disease caused by rotavirus and another two million are hospitalised.
Most deaths occur in developing countries, where access to treatment is limited; however, nearly every child in the world will suffer an episode of diarrhea caused by rotavirus before age five.
As a result, the Rotavirus Vaccine Programme is aimed at reducing child morbidity and mortality from diarrhoeal disease by accelerating the availability of rotavirus vaccines in developing countries.
According to Dr Ramsammy, rotavirus vaccines are already on the way here, adding that the shipment should be received shortly to allow for its prompt addition to the local vaccination programme.
Meanwhile, it is the anticipation of the Minister that by early next year the HPV vaccine will be introduced for young women.
“We have agreed that part of the problem will be who will get it but we have outlined that at the starting of the programme, nine to 11 year old girls will get it. As the programme grows it will be as soon as you reach nine years old,” said the Minister.
A human papillomavirus (HPV) is a virus that infects the epidermis and mucous membranes of humans. HPV can lead to cancers of the cervix, vulva, vagina, and anus in women, a development which could be significantly reduced with the vaccine.
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