Health Experts Highlight Growing Typhoid Pandemic in Asia

As Outbreaks in the Region Continue to Rise, Global Health Leaders Call for Expanded Immunization Efforts

Bangkok, Thailand – June 13, 2012 – Today in Bangkok, the Coalition against Typhoid (CaT), an initiative of the Sabin Vaccine Institute, brought together global health leaders from across Asia to discuss the high burden of endemic typhoid and the growing number of typhoid outbreaks in the region. Experts called on policymakers and ministries of health to make typhoid vaccination a priority in their countries.

“Pediatric associations and others across the region recognize typhoid’s serious impact, particularly the rising and widespread threat of drug resistant typhoid. Many – including India and Indonesia – have made recommendations supporting the use of typhoid vaccines.” said Dr. Lalitha Mendis, Chairperson of the Technical Consultative Group on immunization for the World Health Organization’s (WHO) South East Asia Regional Office (SEARO) in New Delhi and immediate past President of the Sri Lanka Medical Council. “National stakeholders and policy makers should review the evidence and discuss the adoption of typhoid vaccines.”

Despite a WHO recommendation and the prioritization of typhoid vaccines for “immediate” implementation at a 2009 WHO SEARO meeting, many countries in Asia have yet to recommend or introduce typhoid vaccines.

“Since 1997, the Vietnamese Ministry of Health has used typhoid vaccination to effectively control disease in high risk districts,” said Dr. Nguyen Van Cuong, Deputy Head of Vietnam’s National Immunization Program. “Successful programs have also been implemented in China, Thailand, and Sri Lanka.”

According to the WHO, typhoid impacts an estimated 21 million people and causes more than 200,000 deaths annually, predominantly among preschool and school-age children in developing countries of Asia and Africa. WHO reports that 90% of typhoid deaths occur in Asia.

“WHO approved typhoid vaccines are available now, yet these tools are not yet fully embraced by ministries of health across Asia,” said Dr. Jeremy Farrar, Director of the Oxford University Clinical Research Unit in Vietnam.

Typhoid infection impacts school attendance and achievement and limits workforce participation and productivity. Typhoid is widespread in poverty-stricken communities without access to safe water and basic sanitation and spreads through contaminated water and food.

“In Nepal, typhoid is the leading cause of hospital admission among children, adolescents, and young adults presenting with fever,” said Dr. Shyam Raj Upreti, Director of the Child Health Division of the Department of Health Services, Ministry of Health and Population of Nepal, “Nepal has shown that effective typhoid vaccination programs targeting school children can be launched successfully in close collaboration with the Ministry of Education and other stakeholders.”

To conclude today’s event, the panelists emphasized the need for improved surveillance and control programs throughout the region, noting that in order to have the greatest impact, typhoid vaccination efforts must be implemented in conjunction with other public health programs, such as access to safe drinking water and the promotion of good hygiene practices, including hand washing.

To learn more about the typhoid burden in Asia and to view a full list of speakers from today’s event, visit the Coalition against Typhoid website here.