Eradication of meningitis a possibility with new vaccine

The introduction of a cheap meningitis vaccine, specially developed for Africa, has produced spectacular results according to data published Thursday by the World Health Organisation, WHO.

Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger have the lowest rates ever observed in Africa of Meningitis A, following the introduction of the vaccine throughout their territory. The vaccine MenAfriVac is produced by the Indian company Serum Institute and is sold for 50 cents (U.S.) a dose, to make it accessible for low income countries.

Bacterial meningitis infection is common in Africa, in particular in the ”Meningitis belt” stretching from Senegal to Ethiopia with the highest infection rate in the world. It infects the brain and the bone marrow and is fatal in 10% and leaves permanent damage in 20 % of cases, even if treated with antibiotics. 88 000 persons were infected in 2008 and a further 5000 died in 2009.

The Project Vaccins Méningite , which developed the programme, reported that only 4 cases of confirmed meningitis A have been observed in Burkina Faso, the first country to launch vaccination at national level. 3 of the 4 persons had traveled to Togo nearby for medical treatment. The 4th person had not been vaccinated. No case has been reported from Mali and 4 infected in Niger had not been vaccinated.

”The vaccine fulfils all our expectations" said the Minister of Health in Burkina, Adama Traore. ”Our country has suffered from Meningitis A epidemics for decades. The end of these will enable us to redirect our resources to the fight against other diseases.”

Sources : Reuters et Radio Nederland (June 10, 2011)

Koudougou, June 20, 201
Maurice Oudet
Director, SEDELAN

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