Countries commended for reaching important milestone in prevention and control of Meningitis

The President shows a child's vaccination card
The President shows a child's vaccination card

Cotonou, 15 November 2012 -- The WHO Regional Director for Africa Dr Luis SAMBO has commended the commitment of governments, development partners and other health stakeholders in the ongoing efforts to prevent and control meningitis in the Meningitis belt of the African Region.

Following the launch of the meningitis vaccine (MenAfriVac) in December 2010 in Burkina Faso, more than 58.5 million persons have so far been vaccinated in six countries including: Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger and Nigeria, Cameroon and Chad. Since then, there has been no reported case of meningococcal meningitis type A among vaccinated individual.

Speaking at the launch of the MenAfriVac campaign in Cotonou, Benin, Dr Sambo highlighted the remarkable progress that has been made so far in the Region and said: “The event that we are celebrating today is a turning point in history and draws attention of all African people to the current success in the fight against meningitis”. He added that some important work still needs to be done and the introduction of the vaccine will continue in mass vaccination campaign in the sixteen (16) other remaining countries of the meningitis belt.

The activities planned from now till the end of year in Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon, North Sudan, Ghana, Benin and Senegal are expected to cover 54 million additional people, bringing together the total number of MenAfrivac™ doses given so far to 112.5 million.

In his remarks, the President of Benin, His Excellency Dr Boni Yayi who is also the current President of African Union called on development partners and African Governments to support the development of vaccines for the over types of meningitis, support the introduction of the vaccine in Expanded Programme of Immunization and mobilize themselves to tackle meningitis and other potential epidemic diseases.

“I would like to assure you of availability to advocate with my fellows Heads of State and Governments along with partners institutions to be able to mobilize the necessary resources for a more widespread use of the new vaccine”, he noted.

The complete role out of MenAfriVac™ in the 26 countries at risk in the meningitis belt his expected to contribute to the elimination of epidemic meningitis due to serogroup A meningococcal (responsible for 95% of epidemics). This will free up public health resources currently used for annual meningitis control, allowing them to be directed to other high-priority needs. It will also help removing refinancial drain on families from meningitis treatment cost ;lost income from illness, death, and disabilities ;and long- term treatment costs associated with permanent disabilities.
During the ceremony, Dr. Sambo was conferred the honour of “commandeur de l’ordre national du mérite du Bénin” for his meritorious service to public health  in African Region.

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For more information:
François Agossou HPR OMS Bénin This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Boakye A. Collins CAM/AFRO This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Rodrigue Barry Communication and advocacy  IST/WA This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it