The GAVI Alliance and its partners plan to help vaccinate more than 50 million children in at least 40 of the poorest countries worldwide by 2015.
Nicaragua, Honduras, Guyana and Bolivia were the first countries to benefit from GAVI rotavirus funding between 2006 and 2010. Since the start of 2011, Yemen, Moldova, Rwanda, Ghana and Sudan received financial support for rotavirus vaccination.
GAVI approved 19 additional countries for rotavirus vaccines support, including 16 countries in Africa. More than 50 percent of all rotavirus deaths occur on the African continent.
Rotavirus is the leading cause of severe childhood diarrhea in developed and developing countries and leads to more than 450,000 deaths annually. Diarrhea is one of the major killers of children worldwide with an estimated 751,000 children dying annually from diarrheal diseases.
By increasing immunization against rotavirus worldwide, the GAVI Alliance has the goal of reaching Millennium Development Goal 4, reducing child deaths by two-thirds by 2015.
The World Health Organization's Strategic Advisory Group of Experts highlighted the need to provide rotavirus vaccination as part of a comprehensive diarrheal disease control strategy. Other aspects of the strategy include improved case management, provision of zinc supplements and oral rehydration solution and improvement of sanitation, hygiene and water quality.