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Shot Down: Obstacles That Hinder Vaccines in Developing Nations

Amanda Stevenson-Grund - Friday, July 17, 2015

Immunisation helps avert an estimated 2.5 million child deaths each year, as well as millions more bouts of illness and disability.
Access Campaign, Giving Developing Countries the Best Shot: an Overview of Vaccine Access and R&D. 2010

A syring lies on a map of Africa, representing the vaccines needed in developing nations, such as those in Africa 

A child dies every 20 seconds from a vaccine-preventable disease, and more than 70% of those children live in 10 countries, mostly in Asia and Africa, according to UNICEF. Despite the importance of vaccines, vaccine administration rates remain low in many countries. In addition to the usual obstacles to accessing healthcare in developing nations, vaccine administration comes with its own set of challenges, which include cost, transportation and storage and multiple doses.

One challenge of vaccines in developing nations is the high price of vaccine production, testing and distribution. Added to that are lack of market competition and limited financial incentives to target low-income countries. As high-income countries replace existing vaccines with newer, more effective ones, developing nations must continue to use the older vaccines because of cost, according to a 2013 review in Medscape Multispecialty.

Another challenge of vaccine administration in developing nations is the difficulty transporting and storing the vaccines. Geography and the elements can be barriers against travel into rural and remote areas. Upon arrival, the infrastructure in such areas can be inadequate. The Bill and Melinda Gates foundation writes, “Unreliable transportation systems and storage facilities also make it difficult to preserve high-quality vaccines that require refrigeration.”

A third challenge unique to vaccines is that many require boosters or multiple doses. Many patients in developing nations have trouble accessing a clinic or healthcare station for one dose, let alone for multiple doses. This leads to medication noncompliance and incomplete treatment.

Cost, transportation and storage and multiple doses are some challenges of vaccine administration in developing nations. Orbis Biosciences solves some of these problems with our Precision Particle FabricationTM technology. We can create affordable, dose format flexible, long-acting medications and vaccines. If vaccines are designed and produced with developing nations in mind, the rate of vaccine administration will rise, and children will live longer, healthier lives.

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