News / Africa

    New Immunization Effort Launched

    Gavi Alliance helps provide many types of immunization in African countries. (GAVI)
    Gavi Alliance helps provide many types of immunization in African countries. (GAVI)
    Joe DeCapua
    Over the next three months, about 50 million young people in seven African countries will be vaccinated against meningitis. It’s part of larger campaign to eliminate the disease in 26 at-risk countries.


    Meningitis is a swelling of the protective membranes of the brain and spinal cord. It’s usually caused by a bacterial or viral infection and can kill quickly. Symptoms include a high fever, vomiting, headache, stiff neck and back, confusion and a heightened sensitivity to light. Those who survive may suffer from deafness, brain damage and learning difficulties.

    “Meningitis is really devastating for these countries. It’s very unpredictable. It sweeps in unannounced every seven to fourteen years. And when it comes to a country it really causes huge problems. For a start, a lot of people fearing the disease, fearing the death and illness that it brings--they decide to stop gathering and getting together in large groups. So this means children not going to school or adults actually not going to work,” said Dan Thomas of the GAVI Alliance, a Geneva-based public-private partnership working on improving health in poor countries.

    Africa has a “meningitis belt” that stretches from Senegal in the west to Ethiopia in the east. The first phase of meningitis immunizations began in Burkina Faso in 2010. About 12 million people were vaccinated. Health officials say since then no cases of the disease have been reported in the country.

    The countries targeted in the current phase - between October and December - are Benin, Cameroon, Chad, Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal and Sudan.

    Thomas said that the immunizations target meningitis caused by a virus and will be given to babies, children and young adults.

    “This is a vaccine called MenAfriVac. It’s a vaccine against meningitis A, which sweeps through these countries at this time of year before the rainy season, and affects more than 430 million people, who are at risk from illness and death,” he said.

    He added the vaccine costs only one half U.S. dollar, or 50 cents, per dose.

    “One of the key ideas behind it was that it had to be a vaccine which was affordable. Affordable to GAVI so that we could roll it out for more than 400 million people, but also crucially that these countries take on the cost of the vaccines themselves.”

    The immunization campaign is a partnership involving the GAVI Alliance, the World Health Organization, UNICEF, the Serum Institute of India and the Meningitis Vaccine Project.

    You May Like

    Self-doubt, Cultural Barriers Hinder Cambodian Women in Tech

    Longtime Cambodian tech observer Sok Sikieng says that although more women have joined profession in recent years, there remain significant factors hindering women from reaching tech potential

    Trans-Adriatic Pipeline to Boost European Energy Security

    $4.5 billion-pipeline will become operational in 2020 and will deliver gas from Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz II field to southern Italy

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Annual festival showcases the region's harvested agriculture, fine wines and offers opportunities to experience the gentle breeze in a hot air balloon flight

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora