Use of formative research in developing a knowledge translation approach to rotavirus vaccine introduction in developing countries

Simpson, Evan; Wittet, Scott; Bonilla, Josefina; Gamazina, Kateryna; Cooley, Laura; Winkler, Jennifer L.
January 2007
BMC Public Health;2007, Vol. 7 Issue 1, p281
Academic Journal
Background: Rotavirus gastroenteritis is the leading cause of diarrheal disease mortality among children under five, resulting in 450,000 to 700,000 deaths each year, and another 2 million hospitalizations, mostly in the developing world. Nearly every child in the world is infected with rotavirus at least once before they are five years old. Vaccines to prevent rotavirus or minimize its severity are now becoming available, and have already been introduced into the public vaccine programs of several Latin American countries. The World Health Organization (WHO) has made rotavirus vaccine introduction in developing countries a high priority. The WHOs Guidelines for Vaccine Introduction indicates that a key determinant to achieving vaccine introduction is the public health priority of the disease, suggesting that where the disease is not a priority uptake of the vaccine is unlikely. WHO recommends conducting a qualitative analysis of opinions held by the public health community to determine the perceptions of the disease and the priority given to the vaccine. Methods: This paper presents the formative research results of a qualitative survey of public health providers in five low- and middle-income countries to determine if and to what degree rotavirus is perceived to be a problem and the priority of a vaccine. Open-ended surveys were carried out through focus group discussions and one-on-one interviews. Results: Researchers discovered that in all five countries knowledge of rotavirus was extremely low, and as a result was not considered a high priority. However, diarrhea among young children was considered a high priority among public health providers in the three poorest countries with relatively high levels of child mortality: India, Indonesia, and Nicaragua. Conclusion: In the poorest countries, advocacy and communication efforts to raise awareness about rotavirus sufficient for prioritization and accelerated vaccine introduction might benefit from a knowledge translation approach that delivers information and evidence about rotavirus through the broader context of diarrheal disease control, an existing priority, and including information about other new interventions, specifically low-osmolarity oral rehydration solution and zinc treatment.


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