News / Health

Cold-Storage Requirement Dropped for Life-Saving Meningitis Vaccine

Women and children wait to participate in a vaccination campaign against meningitis at the community center in Al Neem camp for Internally Displaced People in El Daein, East Darfur, Sudan, October 8, 2012.Women and children wait to participate in a vaccination campaign against meningitis at the community center in Al Neem camp for Internally Displaced People in El Daein, East Darfur, Sudan, October 8, 2012.
x
Women and children wait to participate in a vaccination campaign against meningitis at the community center in Al Neem camp for Internally Displaced People in El Daein, East Darfur, Sudan, October 8, 2012.
Women and children wait to participate in a vaccination campaign against meningitis at the community center in Al Neem camp for Internally Displaced People in El Daein, East Darfur, Sudan, October 8, 2012.
Jessica Berman
New research has shown that a vaccine against bacterial meningitis, which previously required cold storage to transport across Africa, can be shipped and administered safely for up to four days without refrigeration. Public health experts are calling this a potentially game-changing development for immunization efforts in resource-poor tropical countries.

The fact that the meningitis A vaccine can be removed from the so-called "cold chain" and transported throughout Africa at essentially room temperature means children and young adults who have not been receiving the potentially life-saving vaccine can now get it.

The breakthrough was announced by international public health officials at the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene meeting in Atlanta, Georgia.

Godwin Enwere heads the Meningitis Vaccine Project, a joint collaboration between the World Health Organization and the Program for Appropriate Technology in Health, or PATH.  

Enwere said the discovery that the vaccine could be in transit for up to four days without refrigeration or even coldpacks came after an extensive re-evaluation of stability data by drug regulators in India and Canada.

Prior to the finding, the drug agencies recommended that the meningitis vaccine be transported at temperatures between two and eight degrees centigrade. The ability to transport it safely at ambient temperatures of up to 40 degrees will allow it to reach tens of thousands of children who need it.

Enwere recalls that during a meningitis outbreak in Chad last year, there wasn’t enough of the drug to go around, and public health officials were only able to immunize youngsters in three districts. That left tens of thousands of children in the rest of the country unprotected.
 
“So, this clearly demonstrates not only the effect of the vaccine; that if a system is developed whereby this vaccine can be carried and administered at ambient temperature, then it will increase the coverage," said Enwere. "If we had had this information as of last year, Chad would have introduced this vaccine to a larger population and then perhaps they would not have had this outbreak.”

Meningitis A is a serious, potentially fatal bacterial infection common in resource-poor counties. It causes inflammation of the protective linings of the brain and spinal cord, sometimes causing the brain to swell, producing severe fever, headache and confusion.
 
The vaccine is known as MenAfriVac. It originally was created to meet the needs of Africa’s so-called meningitis belt, which the WHO estimates includes 400 million people who live across a swath of 21 countries that runs from Senegal to Ethiopia.

While the vaccine costs less than 50 cents per dose and is very effective, the biggest obstacle has been keeping it cool enough in the "cold chain" so it doesn’t spoil during the final kilometers to its intended destination.  

Researchers are now investigating whether other cold-chain vaccines can be shipped at room temperature. In particular, they are studying a vaccine against bacterial pneumonia, a disease that kills an estimated half a million children each year.

You May Like

South Korea Divided on Response to North’s Cyber Attack

In past five years, officials in Seoul have accused Pyongyang of hacking into banks, government websites, causing chaos and inflicting millions of dollars in damages More

Video Calm Amid Fear in Daily Life in S. Sudan’s Bentiu

Residents have been trying to regain some sense of normalcy, but planning for the future remains uncertain as fear of attacks looms More

2015 Could Be Watershed for Syria Conflict

Republican control of US Senate in January could lead to more aggressive policy against IS militants in Syria - and against regime of Bashar al-Assad More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ugandan Doctors Aid Victims of Sudan's Civil Wari
X
Adam Bailes
December 22, 2014 3:45 PM
In Sudan's state of South Kordofan, the number of amputees as result of civil war is in the thousands, but few have access to sufficient medical help. Adam Bailes recently visited the area and says a small team of Ugandan doctors has been providing remote help, producing new prosthetic limbs for those in need.
Video

Video Ugandan Doctors Aid Victims of Sudan's Civil War

In Sudan's state of South Kordofan, the number of amputees as result of civil war is in the thousands, but few have access to sufficient medical help. Adam Bailes recently visited the area and says a small team of Ugandan doctors has been providing remote help, producing new prosthetic limbs for those in need.
Video

Video Jane Monheit Christmas Special

Chanteuse Jane Monheit sings the holiday classic “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” and explains why it’s her favorite song of the season.
Video

Video Calm Amid Fear in Daily Life in S. Sudan’s Town of Bentiu

Six months ago, Bentiu was a ghost town. The capital of northern Unity State, near South Sudan’s important oil fields, had changed hands several times in fighting between government forces and rebels. Calm returned in November and since then, residents of Bentiu have been trying to regain some sense of normalcy. Bentiu’s market has reopened there are plans to start school again. But fears of new attacks hang heavy, as Benno Muchler reports from Bentiu.
Video

Video US Business Groups Press for Greater Access to Cuba

President Barack Obama's decision to do all he can to ease restrictions on U.S. trade, travel and financial activities with Cuba has drawn criticism from some conservatives and Republicans. People who bring tourists to the island and farmers who want to sell more food to Cuba, however, think they can do a lot more business with Cuba. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.

All About America

AppleAndroid