October 5, 2010

The Sabin Vaccine Institute (Sabin) today announced a major initiative which will encompass education and awareness activities for the prevention and control of rubella and congenital rubella syndrome (CRS).

While rubella itself is a disease that often causes only mild illness, a significant burden of the disease is associated with rubella virus infection during the first trimester of pregnancy. Known as congenital rubella syndrome, CRS causes significant hearing and visual impairment and mental retardation in countries where rubella infection is not yet controlled or eliminated.

“We can eliminate rubella and CRS with the tools we have available now,” sai Dr. Ciro de Quadros, Executive Vice President of the Sabin Vaccine Institute. “Unfortunately, there remains a significant burden of needless suffering from rubella and CRS in the developing world, where these diseases not only devastate the health of the communities they impact, they also result in significant economic costs.”

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), as of 2008, only 40% of infants had received rubella vaccines through national immunization programs. The annual cost of treating an infant with CRS over a lifetime is approximately $63,000 in the Caribbean and more than $200,000 in the United States. Asia and Africa are the largest regions that have yet to introduce the vaccine. In both regions, the economic burden of rubella and CRS has not been well documented but is thought to be prohibitive.

The three year rubella advocacy project is made possible through a generous grant of $2 million from the Serum Vaccine Institute of India and will review the epidemiological data on these diseases in Africa and Asia to determine the burden of disease. The initiative will also organize regional symposia to discuss the findings and promote and share the lessons learned by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) in eradicating measles, rubella and CRS in the Americas.

About Sabin Vaccine InstituteSabin Vaccine Institute is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) organizations of scientists, researchers, and advocates dedicated to reducing needless human suffering from vaccine preventable infectious and neglected tropical diseases through prevention and treatment. Sabin works with governments, academic institutions, scientists, medical professionals, and other non-profit organizations to provide short and long-term solutions for some of the globe’s toughest health care challenges. Since its founding in 1993 in honor of the oral polio vaccine developer, Dr. Albert B. Sabin, the Institute has been at the forefront of global efforts to eradicate vaccine preventable diseases and provide treatment against neglected tropical diseases by developing new vaccines, establishing international networks, and advocating for effective, efficient and sustainable delivery of vaccines and treatments to the world’s poor. www.sabin.org

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