The Brazilian public health network will have a vaccine for rotavirus in March of 2006. It will be given to all children up to one year of age together with their polio vaccine.
Brazil’s Ministry of Health reports that in Brazil rotavirus is responsible for 42% of all hospitalizations of children below the age of five for problems with diarrhea.
According to Jarbas Barbosa, the head of the ministry’s Health Vigilance Secretariat, in Brazil some 120,000 children are hospitalized annually with diarrhea, and one in every five babies born in the country winds up in a first aid station and that one in every 30 is hospitalized because of rotavirus related problems.
Barbosa says the rotavirus vaccine will be an important part of the country’s efforts to reduce infant mortality rates. Rotavirus is responsible for approximately 33% of all serious cases of diarrhea in children, he reports, adding that it is estimated that the vaccine will mean 1,600 fewer deaths per year among children.
The ministry of Health reports that it has negotiated eight million doses of the vaccine from the pharmaceutical firm GlaxoSmithKlein at a unit cost of US$ 7 (16 reais). At the moment, the vaccine is available in Brazil only in private clinics at a cost of over US$ 100 (220 reais).