The Gambia adds rotavirus to children's immunisation cards

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19 August 2013

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“I’m proud to be the mother of the first baby in The Gambia to be immunised against rotavirus,” said Amie Samba, cradling her son Mohammed Joof.  “I will make sure that my family and friends know about it and encourage those with young children to have them immunised.”

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At the special launch ceremony organised by the Health Ministry, mother Jabou Camara waits for her two-month-old son to be immunised. Severe diarrhoea caused by rotavirus infection claims the lives of more than 450,000 African children every year --  more than 50% of all global rotavirus deaths.

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Speaking at the launch, the Permanent Secretary of the Health Ministry, Mrs. Matilda Bouy, reinforced her Government’s commitment to child survival and development. The Gambia is the sixth African country to introduce rotavirus vaccine with GAVI support.

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Close to a dozen mothers waited in line to immunise their babies against rotavirus.  Diarrhoea caused by rotavirus is the second largest killer of children under five in low income countries.

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Health minister Bouy  delivers the 'new' vaccine herself to one of the children waiting in line -- the latest of 11 life-saving vaccines that The Gambia provides for all children.

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The WHO Country Representative, Dr. Thomas Sukwa (left), and the UNICEF Country Representative, Mrs. Josefa Marrato (right) also attended the launch event. If rolled out to all GAVI-eligible countries, the vaccine is expected to avert 180,000 future deaths each year.

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GAVI plans to support the introduction of rotavirus vaccine in at least 30 of the world’s poorest countries by 2015. This will help countries to make further progress towards MDG4 -- reducing the under-five mortality rate by two thirds by 2015.

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