Meningitis jab in Africa a stunning success - Dream Health

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Saturday, 14 November 2015

Meningitis jab in Africa a stunning success


vaccine

According to experts, a mass vaccination programme against meningitis A in Africa has been successful and over 220 million people were inoculated across 16 countries in the region’s meningitis belt. The meningitis belt stretches from sub-Saharan Africa to Gambia in the west to Ethiopia in the east. In 2013, across the total region, there were only four cases which had once faced thousands of death every year.

But World Health Organisation had warned that `huge epidemics’ would return if new vaccination programme does not tend to begin. The worst epidemic ever recorded was in 1996-97, where the disease had swept over the belt affecting more than a quarter of a million people leading to 25,000 deaths. The MenAfriVac, unlike other vaccines had been designed especially for Africa and a mass vaccination campaign had been started in 2010.

Dr Marie-Pierre Preziosi from World Health Organisation had stated that the disease had virtually disappeared from that part of the world. This mass immunisation programme was intended for individuals below 30 years but routine vaccination would be essential to make sure that the new-borns are not susceptible to the disease.

Game-Changer in Global Health with New Vaccine


Steve Davis, president and CEO of PATH that is an international non-profit organization which together with partners including the World Health Organization, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and African government officials who have worked to research, develop and deliver a meningitis

A vaccine has commented that they are seeing a game-changer in global health with the new vaccine which has the ability to move toward elimination of the disease. Sub-Saharan African for atleast a century had the world’s highest rate of meningitis A, which is a severe infection of the thin lining of the brain and the spinal cord.

It is an airborne disease which tends to kill around 10% of the patients, usually infants, children and young adults. Among those who tend to survive, around 1 in 5 suffers severe brain damage or deafness. There are five kinds of meningitis where meningitis A is rare in other areas of the world, According to PATH, epidemics have taken place in Africa often about every eight to 12 years but it is not known why though environmental elements like dust drought, humidity tend to play a role.

Meningitis Vaccination Project – In Motion in 2001


In 1996, when an epidemic had spread through the region, around 250,000 people were affected and 25,000 had died. Davis informed that it was one of the things which parents feared the most, more than malaria, since if kids did not die, they would be neurologically damaged. The health ministers together with other African leaders, after the epidemics had approached WHO seeking help.

The Meningitis Vaccination Project had been set in motion in 2001 to create a vaccine suitable to prevent meningitis A which would be affordable for developing nations. Huge pharmaceutical companies in rich countries were not willing to take on what they envisaged as an unprofitable project, the manufacture of vaccine which would be sold below 50 cents a dose.

However, a pharmaceutical company in the developing world, the Serum Institute of India with support from foundations and international aid organizations, linked the effort and could produce a high volume of vaccine for under 50 cents for each inoculation according to Davis.


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