One of the tools that will help us defeat diarrheal disease is vaccines – both the rotavirus vaccines that are licensed and the vaccines against bacteria that cause diarrhea that are still in development.
It was just a conference room in Delhi, not the Taj Mahal by any means. No lapis lazuli or other luxuries. (Although many would consider the flush toilets, hot water, and soap in the bathrooms down the hall as luxuries).
The 1,000 days between a woman’s pregnancy and her child’s 2nd birthday represent a critical but short window of time to ensure a child’s future health and prosperity. Children who are well-nourished during this critical window reap a lifetime of benefits for themselves and their communities. The nutrition that a mother and her baby receive during these 1,000 days has a profound impact on a child’s ability to grow, learn and rise out of poverty.
As India announced in January 2012 that it has been polio free for a year, the bigger story that missed the headlines may have been the fact that the Indian States of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar – which have long been the endemic states - have remained virus free for even longer. Uttar Pradesh has been free of the deadly P1 virus for the past 25 months and from the P3 virus for the past 22 months, while Bihar has been free from the polio virus for 16 months.
Summer 2006, rural China: My colleagues and I take a bathroom break at a rest stop on the side of the road on our way to a health clinic. Unlike many female restrooms around the world, there isn’t a long line of patrons waiting to use the holes in the ground separated by slabs of cement. I walk over to one of the farthest holes in the room and, my colleague stands in front of my “stall” as a human door. Other patrons giggle at how shy we are using the makeshift toilets.
You probably already know the shocking reality—more than 1,200 children under age five die from rotavirus each day—that’s more that 450,000 each year! What you might not know is that many of these deaths can be prevented by using rotavirus vaccines. Vaccination offers the best protection against severe rotavirus diarrhea, and rotavirus vaccines are saving lives in countries where they are in use.
At USAID's "Every Child Deserves a 5th Birthday" briefing, USAID Administrator Raj Shah proudly displays a photo of one of his little ones, who had just graduated from her play group.
I’ve always had a soft spot for revolutionary people and ideas, so it’s not surprising that my favorite part of USAID’s Every Child Deserves a 5th Birthday briefing was a nod to the work of Jim Grant (Executive Director of UNICEF from 1980-1995) and his commitment to child health that saved countless lives. It reminded me that child health efforts in which I play a small role tell a story that’s been decades in the making.
Dick Walker with children in Cambodia. Promising vaccine technologies can help expand and improve the arsenal of tools to use in the fight against diarrhea among children.
The leading bacterial causes of diarrhea are enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (ETEC) and Shigella, and vaccines against these pathogens could save the lives of up to a half-million children each year. PATH’s enteric vaccine project is working to accelerate the development of several promising vaccine candidates.
The Great, the Good and the Glamorous are gathering in Washington DC this week to talk about some really big issues affecting the world’s poorest and most vulnerable children and adults.
Anyone who is anyone in Global Health and Development is in town.