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

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regreti
X
Zana Omer
March 28, 2015 1:19 AM
Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Virginia Tavern Takes Patrons Back to Medieval Times

European martial arts are not widely practiced and are unknown by most people. A tavern in Old Town Alexandria, outside Washington, wants to change this by promoting these fighting techniques from medieval times. Through combining visual arts, martial arts and culinary arts, this tavern brings medieval history back to life. VOA's Yang Lin and Helen Wu report.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More