The African Rotavirus Network organised the 12th African Rotavirus Symposium (ARS) from 30 July to 1 August 2019 in Johannesburg, South Africa. The symposium theme “A decade of rotavirus vaccination in Africa - Saving lives and changing the face of diarrhoeal diseases”, included sessions aimed at sharing ideas and expertise on prevention and control of diarrhoeal disease in Africa. Inter alia, the delegates reviewed global and regional epidemiological trends on rotavirus diarrhoea, progress and experiences on rotavirus vaccine introduction, including vaccine safety monitoring and impact in Africa, scientific advances in developing newer rotavirus vaccines, surveillance and research on other diarrhoeal pathogens, and providing an enabling environment for networking. Importantly, the 12th ARS served to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the African Rotavirus Network (AfrRN) coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the South African Medical Research Council. Four oral, live-attenuated rotavirus vaccines are currently prequalified by the WHO (Rotarix, RotaTeq, Rotavac and RotaSiil). African countries utilising rotavirus vaccines in routine national immunisation programmes are realising their effectiveness and impact on diarrhoeal disease morbidity. An ~40% reduction in hospitalisations of <5-year-olds with acute gastroenteritis following rotavirus vaccine introduction, was reported between 2006 and 2018 in 92,000 children from the WHO-coordinated African Rotavirus Surveillance Network (AfrRSN) comprising 33 Member States. This was corroborated by a meta-analysis of published data, sourced from January 2000 to August 2018 that reported substantial reductions in rotavirus hospitalisations in countries using rotavirus vaccines. However, it was highlighted that the transition of some countries from Gavi-eligibility and vaccine supply shortfalls present significant challenges to achieving the full impact of rotavirus immunization in Africa. The wide diversity of rotavirus genotypes continues in Africa, with variation observed both geographically and temporally. There is currently no evidence to suggest that the emergence of rotavirus strains not included in the current vaccines do escape vaccine-induced immunity.
- 12th African Rotavirus Symposium
- Rotavirus strains
- Rotavirus vaccines