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The East African : May 10th 2015
The EastAfrican 34 OUTLOOK MAY 9-15,2015 S CI E N C E Kenya to use injectable polio vaccine Salk poliovi≥us vaccine contains chemically inactivated poliovi≥us. By CHRISTABEL LIGAMI Special Correspondent polio vaccine into its routine immunisation programme to contain the on-an-off polio outbreaks reported in the country. The Salk inactivated poliovirus K vaccine (IPV), used in most developed countries, including Canada, contains chemically inactivated poliovirus. The current oral polio vaccine made from a live poliovirus is given to children in three doses: At two months, four months and the last at between the ages of six and 18 months. But the IPV dose will be given to children from 14 weeks of age. According to Collins Tabu, an epi- demiologist in charge of policy direction on immunisation at the Ministry of Health, the IPV dose will be co-administered with an OPV dose and the other infant vaccines. “This vaccine will be given at the same time as OPV 3 at the cost of $1 and no extra clinic visit will be required thereafter,” he said. The vaccine is an injectable, 5-dose formulation. Polio, an acute virus that spreads through faecal matter, can cause paralysis and even death. The disease has been largely eradicated but there are constant outbreaks in Somalia, Kenya, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria. The WHO now recommends that countries that have been using only OPV introduce at least one dose of the injectable vaccine into their routine childhood vaccination schedules. All the developing countries have until the end of this year to introduce IPV into their immunisation Nigeria Source: WHO programmes. The OPV has been the workhorse of the polio eradication effort since 1988, and because it is cheap and easy to administer, OPV has protected billions of children from paralysis. But the vaccine has a couple of unwelcome features. Reports indicate that sometimes a child who gets the vaccine will develop polio; that happens in one case per every 2.7 million first doses of OPV given. OPV-vaccinated children also shed viruses in their stool. “In settings where hygiene is poor, those viruses can spread to other children, immunising them too. But if the vaccine viruses continue to circulate, they can regain the virulence that was engineered out of them in the vaccine manufacturing process and cause paralysis too,” said Dr Tabu. “To stop those vaccine viruses from spreading, eventually the world will need to cease using OPV.” In 2016, he said, the WHO will take one component out of the oral vaccine, which protects against three strains of polio, Wild Polio Virus Types 1,2,3. Dr Tabu said that the Wild Polio This vaccine will be given at the same time as OPV 3 at the cost of $1 and no extra clinic visit will be required thereafter.” virus type 2 has been eradicated globally since 1999, so protection against Type 2 is no longer needed Given that Type 2 vaccine viruses are still in use in some parts of the world, the plan is to get all countries that use OPV to give each child at least one dose of the more expensive injectable vaccine before the Type 2 component is dropped from OPV. That would ensure all children have some protection against Type 2. The community of researchers and public health organisations have for years queried the efficacy of OPV in the developing world. However, the vaccine has had both fierce proponents and steadfast opponents — the latter objecting to its high cost, the need to buy and safely discard mass numbers of syringes and other complications. A study by scientists from India and from the Global Polio Eradication Initiative looked at the response of previously vaccinated Indian children who received a booster dose of OPV, IPV or a placebo. The children who received IPV got the best boost to their immune response to the virus. The study provided strong evidence that IPV boosts intestinal immunity among children with a history of multiple OPV doses more effectively than an additional OPV dose. Polio remains endemic — trans- mission has never been stopped — in three countries: Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria. And viruses from those countries occasion- Tanzania buys cathete≥ machine fo≥ open hea≥t su≥ge≥y By ROSEMARY MIRONDO Special Correspondent Muhimbili National Hospital in Tanzania now has a fully functional catheterisation machine to provide catheter-based treatment for structural heart diseases. This method involves the insertion of a sheath into the femoral artery, which offers several advantages, including the accessibility of the artery in most patients, ease in control of bleeding even in patients suffering anti-coagulation and the enhancement of comfort because patients are capable of sitting up and walking six hours after the procedure. The machine, purchased by the government for $2 million also saves patients $617,955 annually on trips to and treatment in India. According to Prof Mohammad Janabi, a cardiologist, at least 50 patients are taken to India for open heart surgery annually where one patient’s cost for transport and treatment averages at least Tsh2.5 million ($1,235.91). A diagnostic angiogram has enabled investi- gation of 73 patients so far at the facility. “We have so far treated four patients suffering from heart diseases,” said Prof Janabi, a cardiologist. Prof Janabi expressed optimism that a large number of children who are born with heart problems can now be treated using the procedure without charges. “Currently, there are at least 20 infants in our wards born with holes in their hearts and we expect to do the intervention on them without having to open their hearts,” he said. The hospital staff will undergo four separate training courses by experts from the UK, Saudi Arabia and Isreal who will conduct in-house training as well as provide services, which Prof Janabi said, means more patients will be treated during the training. Prof Janabi said that while the cost of treat- ment for the procedure is high, the hospital is currently in discussion with the National Health Insurance Fund to cover more people for the treatment. “If the talks are successful, we will be able to treat more people despite their financial background,” he said. He said that patients are divided into three categories; patients who don’t have an income and are treated for free; public patients who contribute $2,297 for the treatment; and the private patients who can pay fully and therefore subsidise those who cannot afford the treatment. In Africa the procedure is used in South Af- rica, Sudan, and Egypt and in the East African Countries Kenya and now Tanzania. A baby in an incubator. Pic: File New epilepsy drug may treat Alzheimers disease A new epilepsy drug holds promise as a treatment for Alzheimer’s disease. The findings, published in Alzheimer’s Research & Therapy, reinforce the theory that brain hyperexcitability plays an important role in Alzheimer’s disease, and that anticonvulsant drugs — drugs that prevent or reduce the severity of seizures — represent a promising treatment that deserves further human studies. The findings suggest the drug may slow some of the symptoms of the disease, including memory loss. enya will, in the next two months, introduce an injectable Ethiopia 53 4 Cameroon 14 Polio around the world Afghanistan Polio-endemic countries Syria 24 New cases reported since start of 2013 new cases 2013/14 114 17 Pakistan 9 193 Somalia Kenya FACTS Polio remains most endemic globally in three countries: Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria. In May 2014, the WHO declared an international public health emergency, citing outbreaks in at least 10 countries. In Syria, Somalia and Iraq, violence has complicated efforts to contain new cases. In 2013, some 84 per cent of infants around the world (77 per cent in Africa) received three doses of polio vaccine. BRIEFS Regular blood tests can detect ovarian cancers Regular blood tests can detect 86 per cent of ovarian cancers before the point at which women normally would be diagnosed, according to a trial conducted by the University College of London. Ovarian tumours are often deadly as they are caught too late. The first results of the 14-year trial of more than 46,000 women suggest tumours can be detected early. Scientists devise paper test for fake drugs Scientists from the University of Notre Dame, US have designed a cheap and easy-to-use paper test card that uses colour coding to detect fake antimalarial drugs. A pill or tablet is crushed and swiped across the card that is then placed in water. After three to five minutes, a pattern of coloured bars is revealed. If this pattern differs from the unique colour barcode produced by pure samples of that drug, the batch is labelled as suspicious and sent to a laboratory for further analysis. The test is meant to be used in pharmacies before drugs are offered for sale, and in Customs offices, according to the researchers. Premature births disrupt brain formation — study Premature birth can alter the connectivity between key areas of the brain, according to a new study led by King’s College London. The findings should help researchers to understand why premature birth is linked to a greater risk of neuro developmental problems, including autistic spectrum disorders and attention deficit disorders. Researchers found that those born in the normal window of birth (37-42 weeks) showed a similar structure to adults in these brain regions.
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