Experts’ assessment of measles vaccine in Nigeria and four other countries have found the vaccine also helping the body to fight off diarrhoea and pneumonia, two killer illnesses in children.
In the study, the experts found that measles vaccination works as a preventive measure against pneumonia and diarrhoea, when these diseases occur either as a measles complication or secondary infection.
The countries included in the 2017 study in the journal, PLoS ONE, are Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, India, Nigeria, and Pakistan.
It examined the effect of measles vaccination on airway respiratory infections (ARI) and diarrhoea in children age 12 to 59 months.
These are countries that have the highest population of measles-unvaccinated children and the highest concentration of child deaths associated with pneumonia and diarrhoea.
Pneumonia is the most severe form of ARI affecting the lungs. Estimates suggest that pneumonia and diarrhoea are the leading causes of child mortality.
The study found that the vaccine was associated with a reduction of ARI in vaccinated children by 15 per cent in India and 30 per cent in Pakistan.
In addition, the study indicated that measles vaccination also provided a protective effect against diarrhoea in four out of the five countries considered in the analysis—the Democratic Republic of Congo, India, Nigeria and Pakistan.
Compared to unvaccinated children, measles vaccination was associated in reducing diarrhoea in vaccinated children by 22 per cent in the Democratic Republic of Congo, 12 per cent in India, 21 per cent in Nigeria and 19 per cent in Pakistan.
According to the study, measles vaccination was not protective against ARI in Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo and Ethiopia, and on diarrhoea in Ethiopia.
Also, ARI was more in children belonging to households using solid cooking fuels in Nigeria and India just as households’ access to improved toilet facilities decreased the risk of diarrhoea in children in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The experts, however, linked the difference in the protective effect of measles vaccination on ARI in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia and Nigeria and on diarrhoea in Ethiopia to the burden of germs that varies across the countries.
Based on the findings of the study, they suggested the promotion of childhood vaccination at the recommended age in low- and middle- income countries, urging that measles vaccination campaigns must also highlight the preventive benefit of measles vaccine against pneumonia and diarrhoea.
It’s long been known that contracting measles weakens the immune system for weeks or months, putting people, especially children, at increased risk for potentially fatal infection by a host of germs that would normally be controlled by the immune system.
Source: The Nigerian Tribune