Progress towards Demonstrating the Impact of Haemophilus influenzae Type b Conjugate Vaccines Globally

Journal of Pediatrics

Special Supplement:  Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib)
July 2013 – 14 articles

Progress towards Demonstrating the Impact of Haemophilus influenzae Type b Conjugate Vaccines Globally
Rana Hajjeh, MD, Kim Mulholland, MBBS, FRACP, MD, Anne Schuchat, MD, Mathuram Santosham, MD, MPH

Prior to the introduction of vaccines, Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) was the most common cause of bacterial meningitis and an important cause of severe pneumonia in children <5 years of age. Hib conjugate vaccines were introduced in developed countries during the early 1990s, resulting in a virtual elimination of Hib disease.1 However, the introduction of Hib vaccine in developing countries was delayed significantly due to multiple barriers, with major obstacles being the lack of local data on disease burden and the lack of awareness of the potential impact of the vaccine. In 2002, a group of scientific experts and public health officials gathered in Arizona, US, to discuss the epidemiology and control of Hib disease and recommended a multifaceted approach to overcome barriers for Hib vaccine introduction.2 In 2005, the GAVI Alliance funded the Hib Initiative, a consortium of public and private institutions (Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, the World Health Organization [WHO], the London School for Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and the US Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention) to assist countries eligible for GAVI funding in making evidence-based decisions regarding the introduction of Hib vaccines into national immunizations programs. The Hib Initiative adopted a strategy based on improved communications, coordination with key partners at country, regional, and global levels, and supporting selected research studies to address gaps in Hib knowledge, particularly studies that could provide evidence and capacity to sustain vaccine programs beyond the period of GAVI support. Fortunately, significant progress in introduction of Hib vaccines has occurred over the last few years with all GAVI countries, having either introduced the vaccine already or are expected to introduce in 2013.3