Methods: We undertook a review of original research and reviews, using MEDLINE, PubMed, SCOPUS, and the databases of the WHO, CDC, UNHCR, UNICEF, and SPHERE. Keywords and focused MeSH terms included: refugee, displaced person, population displacement, disaster, disaster planning, relief work, communicable disease, vaccination and specific diseases and vaccines. All abstracts were assessed for relevance; those deemed topical were reviewed in more detail.
Results: Over 200 papers were reviewed and 97 included in the final analysis. Throughout the literature, independent of geography, time, and crisis-type, the two most common causes of death in humanitarian emergencies are acute respiratory illness and diarrheal disease. Within these, the majority of disease is cause by three pathogens: Streptococcus pneumoniae, Rotavirus, and Haemophilus influenzae type-b.
Conclusion: A limited number of VPD contribute disproportionately to morbidity and mortality in CHE. The literature suggests that Streptococcus pneumoniae, Rotavirus, and Haemophilus influenzae type-b are essential targets for vaccination programs in emergencies. These three vaccines should be considered for universal use in CHE. Strategies such as reduced dosing schedules and expanded age range of vaccine administration should be investigated to overcome the barriers to distribution.
J. Cohn, None