Bandim Health Project (BHP) has made several groundbreaking observations. The most important is undoubtedly that the most widely used health interventions to children in low income countries, vaccinations and vitamin A supplements, may have much more dramatic effects than previously thought.

Live attenuated vaccines like the tuberculosis vaccine (BCG) and measles vaccine stimulate the immune system and protect against a wide range of other diseases. Worrying diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis (DTP) vaccine seems to increase mortality from other diseases. These nonspecific vaccine effects are strongest for girls. There are also sex differences in the response to vitamin A supplements, whereas it often is beneficial for boys, several studies have shown a strong negative effect for girls.

These are very important observations for two reasons. Firstly, it means that we probably can reduce mortality far more by using vaccines and vitamin A supplements, so they get the optimal beneficial effects. Secondly, they contradict the common views of vaccines and vitamin A supplements, and our understanding that boys and girls should receive the same vaccines and supplements at the same time.

Scientific production

The research at the BHP has been published more than 1100 articles in international journals. In an external evaluation of DANIDA-funded international health projects in 2007 the BHP was the most productive. In a bibliographic review conducted by the Indepth Network, the BHP was twice as productive as any other health project.