Rotaviruses are estimated to be responsible for approximately 530 000 under 5 deaths each year globally. More importantly, it is a very important cause of hospitalization and child morbidity in developing countries. Children under 5 years of age, especially those between 6 months and 2 years, are most vulnerable. Two new vaccines against rotavirus infections got licensed in 2006, which are considered to be safe and efficacious. WHO has recommended use of these vaccines in national immunization programs in Europe and Americas. Data from the clinical trials in Africa and Asia is expected soon to facilitate recommendations for developing countries in Asia and Africa.
Demonstration of disease burden and documentation of epidemiology prior and following vaccine introduction is very crucial to facilitate decision-making for vaccine introduction and for assessment of vaccine impact. Considering a very non-specific clinical picture of rotavirus gastroenteritis and need for special lab-testing for making the diagnosis, sentinel hospital-based surveillance is recommended for rotavirus. Feasibility of doing only limited surveillance in each country makes the regional network approach with standardization of surveillance protocol and data sharing across countries very useful. Hence, a regional surveillance network is being promoted for rotavirus. A quarterly bulletin will be published incorporating the results from sentinel surveillance sites in the member states and other news and updates on rotavirus vaccines.