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Otago paediatricians contribute to major Oxford University work

Tuesday 21 July 2020 12:02pm

Peter-and-Tony-collage-650
Professor Peter McIntyre (left) and Associate Professor Tony Walls have written a chapter on the "Global Public Health Impact of Vaccines in Children" for the prestigious Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Public Health.

Two University of Otago academic paediatricians have become the first New Zealand-based researchers to have a chapter published in the prestigious Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Public Health.

Part of the larger online Oxford Research Encyclopedia, the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Public Health is a dynamic digital document continuously updated by the world’s leading scholars and researchers.

Specialists in the infectious diseases of children, the researchers penned the chapter “Global Public Health Impact of Vaccines in Children”. Professor Peter McIntyre, based at Otago’s Department of Women’s and Children’s Health in Dunedin since 2018, worked with Associate Professor Tony Walls from the Department of Paediatrics, University of Otago, Christchurch on the project.

"Vaccines rate alongside a clean water supply, improved nutrition and antibiotics as the top contributors to global child health, and the health of children in New Zealand, of the past 100 years."

The health impacts of child vaccination are enormous, and the chapter aims to cover the field for the non-vaccine specialist as “a summary of the issues around how you measure what vaccines have done for children across the world and what we know about their impact”, Professor McIntyre says.

“Vaccines rate alongside a clean water supply, improved nutrition and antibiotics as the top contributors to global child health, and the health of children in New Zealand, of the past 100 years.”

Writing about such a topic is a big undertaking, with books written about a number of the individual topics within it, he says.

“We take the reader through from the launch of the Expanded Programme of Immunisation (EPI) of the WHO, which started in the 1970s following the great global success in eradicating smallpox, by targeting six key diseases (polio, diphtheria, tetanus, measles, TB ,whooping cough) and now includes many more vaccines.”

Associate Professor Tony Walls says readers will learn that since a vaccine against Hib meningitis became available in New Zealand in the mid-1990s, the disease has disappeared.

“However, even in the 2000s Hib vaccine was still not affordable for areas of the world where there was much more Hib disease.”

Professor McIntyre and Associate Professor Walls both say the key thing for them is that the information included is “up to date, high quality and free to access for students of public health from lower income countries”.

“It will be exciting to see or hear of it being used, and those who use it finding it valuable. Of course, in time it will need to be updated – but for now it’s nice to bask in a small bit of satisfaction.”

Story by Craig Borley (Communications Adviser, Division of Health Sciences).