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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Health and economic impact of rotavirus vaccination in GAVI-eligible countries

Sun-Young Kim12*, Steve Sweet1, David Slichter12 and Sue J Goldie12

Author Affiliations

1 Center for Health Decision Science, Department of Health Policy and Management, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston MA, USA

2 Harvard Initiative for Global Health, Cambridge, MA, USA

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BMC Public Health 2010, 10:253  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-10-253

Published: 14 May 2010

Abstract

Background

Rotavirus infection is responsible for about 500,000 deaths annually, and the disease burden is disproportionately borne by children in low-income countries. Recently the World Health Organization (WHO) has released a global recommendation that all countries include infant rotavirus vaccination in their national immunization programs. Our objective was to provide information on the expected health, economic and financial consequences of rotavirus vaccines in the 72 GAVI support-eligible countries.

Methods

We synthesized population-level data from various sources (primarily from global-level databases) for the 72 countries eligible for the support by the GAVI Alliance (GAVI-eligible countries) in order to estimate the health and economic impact associated with rotavirus vaccination programs. The primary outcome measure was incremental cost (in 2005 international dollars [I$]) per disability-adjusted life year (DALY) averted. We also projected the expected reduction in rotavirus disease burden and financial resources required associated with a variety of scale-up scenarios.

Results

Under the base-case assumptions (70% coverage), vaccinating one single birth cohort would prevent about 55% of rotavirus associated deaths in the 72 GAVI-eligible countries. Assuming I$25 per vaccinated child (~$5 per dose), the number of countries with the incremental cost per DALY averted less than I$200 was 47. Using the WHO's cost-effectiveness threshold based on per capita GDP, the vaccines were considered cost-effective in 68 of the 72 countries (~94%). A 10-year routine rotavirus vaccination would prevent 0.9-2.8 million rotavirus associated deaths among children under age 5 in the poorest parts of the world, depending on vaccine scale-up scenarios. Over the same intervention period, rotavirus vaccination programs would also prevent 4.5-13.3 million estimated cases of hospitalization and 41-107 million cases of outpatient clinic visits in the same population.

Conclusions

Our findings suggest that rotavirus vaccination would be considered a worthwhile investment for improving general development as well as childhood health level in most low-income countries, with a favorable cost-effectiveness profile even under a vaccine price ($1.5-$5.0 per dose) higher than those of traditional childhood vaccines.