News / Health

Study Reveals Need to Tailor Vaccines to Developing World

Child receives a polio vaccine in Islamabad, Pakistan, Oct. 16, 2012.Child receives a polio vaccine in Islamabad, Pakistan, Oct. 16, 2012.
Child receives a polio vaccine in Islamabad, Pakistan, Oct. 16, 2012.
Child receives a polio vaccine in Islamabad, Pakistan, Oct. 16, 2012.
Jennifer Lazuta
The research arm of Doctors Without Borders reports vaccines created for industrialized countries are not being adapted for use in the developing world, meaning that millions of children born each year could be receiving less-effective vaccines, or missing out on the basic vaccination package.
The results of a new study by Epicentre, the research division of Doctors Without Borders, have added to what the group calls a “growing body of evidence” that vaccines may not be one-size-fits-all.

Rebecca Grais, director of Epidemiology and Population Health at Epicentre, says vaccines against life-threatening diseases must be modified for use in Africa if they are to protect children.

"We want to make sure that the living vaccine and the vaccines that we do have are both adapted to the population where we are working, in presentation and composition, and we want them to be as easy to use as possible for both the mother and for the health infrastructure," she said.

Many areas in Africa don't have access to adequate refrigeration or electricity to keep vaccines stored at proper temperatures. Bad roads and other logistical issues make getting the vaccines out to communities a challenge. And the vaccines are not always easy to use or administer in proper doses.
Grais said these factors must all be taken into consideration during the development and testing phases of a vaccine.

She and her team spent two years looking at the incidence of diarrhea among more than 10,000 children under the age of five in Niger. Diarrhea is one of the leading causes of child mortality in Africa and is often caused by an infection known as rotavirus.

Epicentre says the two available vaccines for rotavirus were developed and tested in industrialized countries where they have been found to be 90 percent effective. However, those same vaccines are estimated to be only 50 to 60 percent effective when used in Africa and Asia.

"There’s been great success in the U.S. and Europe with, in particular, two currently available rotavirus vaccines," said Grais.  "We've seen a great decline in the incidence of rotavirus and of course subsequently severe rotavirus gastroenteritis, which may lead to death, and so this has been a success.  So the question is: how can we use these vaccines in the best way in the areas of the world with the highest diarrheal burden, which is sub-Saharan Africa?"
Grais said that while their study focused on the rotavirus vaccine, its findings are relevant to vaccinations in general.

Epicentre has launched two additional studies looking at alternative methods to deliver tetanus vaccine in Chad and the vaccine for pneumococcal disease in Uganda.

Researchers hope the findings will further convince pharmaceutical companies that they need to tailor vaccines to the challenges of the developing world.

You May Like

Multimedia Brussels Schools, Metro Reopen Under Heavy Guard

City remains under the highest threat alert level due to what authorities have described as a 'serious and imminent' threat of attack

Video Debt-ridden Refugees Await Onslaught of Lebanese Winter

Aid agencies are attempting to reduce potentially devastating consequences of freezing conditions and snowstorms that killed eight last year, including three Syrian refugees

Americans Think About Strange Stuff at Thanksgiving

Millions of Americans are celebrating Thanksgiving, but they’re not necessarily thinking about turkey and stuffing

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against ISi
November 24, 2015 3:04 AM
The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs