Vaccines and Immunization
PATH has been instrumental in expanding vaccine and immunization rates across the Mekong region. We work closely with government officials in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia to assist them in applying for funding from Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, and to design and implement successful campaigns.
PATH is eager to bring our vaccine and immunization expertise to Myanmar. In recent years, Myanmar’s immunization program has been steadily improving, but coverage remains relatively low. According to the latest figures, a little over 50 percent of children aged 12 to 23 months in Myanmar have received all basic vaccinations. Significant systemic barriers remain particularly in the 70 townships identified as physically and socio-economically hard to reach.
Introducing the Japanese encephalitis vaccine in Myanmar
Japanese encephalitis (JE) is the leading cause of viral encephalitis in Asia and is spread by infected mosquitoes. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that JE claims 10,000 to 15,000 lives a year, mostly children under 15 years old. Among those who survive, about half suffer lifelong neurological damage, and half to three-quarters suffer long-term disabilities, including intellectual, behavioral, or neurological disabilities like paralysis or the inability to speak. There is no cure or clinical treatment for JE; vaccination is the single most important measure for its prevention.
Myanmar is among Asia’s JE-endemic countries, and sporadic cases of JE outbreaks have been documented in Myanmar since 1977. Currently, JE cases are commonly detected in all states and regions of Myanmar, primarily affecting children aged 1 to 14 years.
PATH is supporting the Central Expanded Programme of Immunization (cEPI) of the Myanmar Ministry of Health and Sports to introduce JE vaccination in the country. PATH and the cEPI are working with the WHO and UNICEF to facilitate the subsequent introduction of JE into routine immunization programs from 2018 onwards. Through a combination of technical assistance and short-term provision of JE vaccines, PATH hopes to reduce morbidity and mortality associated with JE, ultimately working towards protecting Myanmar’s children from this deadly disease.