Rotavirus is the leading cause of diarrhoeal disease in the world. Killing more than 500,000 people annually, rotavirus is particularly deadly in the poorest countries in the world. The disease is easily transmitted, so immediate treatment is vital to prevent complications and death. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests that the most effective way to prevent it is the rotavirus vaccine.
In Central America, the rotavirus vaccine has been tremendously successful. The 2006 introduction of the vaccine to Nicaragua has resulted in the decrease of severe rotavirus illness and deaths, and the country has been instrumental in setting vaccination standards throughout the world. This example of humanitarian aid to Nicaragua has resulted in a domino effect that can benefit all developing countries in the fight against preventable diseases.
In addition to the rotavirus vaccine, Nicaragua has stood apart as a country intent upon eliminating deaths due to diarrhoeal disease. In the past decade, the Central American country has implemented new treatments to supplement the vaccine, including improved water treatments and an oral rehydration solution. Today, 98 percent of Nicaraguan children are vaccinated against the virus and studies show that diarrhoeal disease due to rotavirus has been all but eliminated.
Humanitarian aid to Nicaragua has been very successful in the years since the country’s vaccination expansion. Long understood as a hotbed for crime and violence, Nicaragua is living an era of peace and crime rates are down. It has become a country of innovation; in addition to a stabilized economy, Nicaragua is becoming a world power in terms of renewable energy. In 2016, the bulk of its energy came from alternative sources such as hydroelectric dams and wind farms.
Social and gender equality is also booming in the country. The mindset change has clearly had wide-reaching impacts. While its approach to the rotavirus vaccine is but a small example of Nicaragua’s dedication to innovation and improvement, its place as a world standard can influence every stage of the country’s development.
A focus on vaccination has clear and expedient effects. In the case of Nicaragua, ensuring that every child is vaccinated all but eliminated diarrhoeal disease due to rotavirus. The fact that the country was not satisfied with its own status but strove to innovate and serve as an example to countries around the world should be commended.
Humanitarian aid to Nicaragua has been widespread and the country is reaping the benefits. Coupled with U.S. resources, Nicaragua has the potential and the experience needed to bring lasting relief to countries struggling with rotavirus and other barriers to healthy and prosperous living.
– Eric Paulsen