Diarrhoea is a very common cause of severe illness and even childhood deaths in Malawi. The main cause of severe diarrhoea in Malawi and the world is a germ called Rotavirus. In 2012, the Malawi government introduced a vaccine to combat Rotavirus and reduce diarrhea illness and associated deaths among children in the country. The vaccine is given to all Malawian infants at 6 and 10 weeks of age
Two years down the line, an ongoing Wellcome Trust funded study of the effectiveness of Rotavirus vaccine in Malawi found a reduction in the number of hospital admissions with severe diarrhoea among infants since the vaccine was introduced – ongoing work is evaluating the impact of the vaccine on infant deaths. According to the results published in the Lancet Infectious Diseases journal in April this year, the study team found that that the vaccine reduced the risk of severe disease by 64%, and the total community burden of rotavirus hospitalization by 43%.