Tackling ear disease in remote communities

Menzies researchers are looking at ways to maximise the protection of infants and young children in remote Indigenous communities from the many bacteria that cause ear disease.

Combinations of vaccines, including a schedule commencing at one month of age, are being evaluated in two clinical trials in remote communities. The child health research nurses provide additional health checks and all vaccinations, as well as training in the diagnosis, treatment and management of otitis media.

“During our visits, families have the opportunity to see their baby’s eardrum on the video. Parents receive information about the impacts of ear disease on hearing loss and their child’s listening and learning, how to prevent and treat ear infections, and the potential of this vaccine trial to improve ear health,” trial coordinator Nicole Wilson explains.

“The additional resources provided by the research team’s regular visits have created a collaborative approach to coordinate child health checks, with improved timeliness of vaccination a very positive benefit of research participation.”

If the study shows the combination vaccine schedule to be superior, relevant policy may need to be adapted for infants living in high-risk populations.