News / Africa

    New, Affordable Meningitis Vaccine Debuts in Africa

    Newly re-elected president Blaise Compaore's wife Chantal holds a young boy during the launch of a new vaccination campaign against meningitis in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, 06 Dec. 2010
    Newly re-elected president Blaise Compaore's wife Chantal holds a young boy during the launch of a new vaccination campaign against meningitis in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, 06 Dec. 2010

    Multimedia

    Audio
    Anne Look

    Health officials say a new, affordable vaccine launched this week in Burkina Faso could eliminate recurring meningitis-A epidemics that have plagued the continent for the past century.

    Health workers say Meningococcal-A epidemics that hit sub-Saharan Africa every seven to 14 years could soon be a thing of the past, thanks to a new, affordable vaccine launched this week in Burkina Faso.

    A baby cries in his mother's arms as he is vaccinated. His mother says she is afraid of meningitis because it kills and that is why she brought her baby here.

    Burkina Faso is part of what health workers call Africa's "meningitis belt," a band of 25 countries stretching from Senegal to Ethiopia. Health workers plan to vaccinate 12 million Burkinabe against the disease by the end of the year.

    The new vaccine, called MenAfriVac, is the first vaccine developed especially for Africa. It costs less than 50 cents a dose and provides 10 years of immunity against a form of meningitis called meningococcal-A, which infects the lining around the brain and spinal cord and can kill or disable its victims. The strain accounts for more than 80 percent of meningitis outbreaks in sub-Saharan Africa.

    The vaccine was developed by a partnership between the World Health Organization and international nonprofit, PATH, with the support of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and collaboration from public health officials in affected countries.

    Meningitis Vaccine Project leader Michael LaForce said its launch this week marks "the beginning of the end" for meningitis in Burkina Faso, and sub-Saharan Africa.

    "Today is a phenomenal day," LaForce said. "Today represents the culmination of ten years worth of work to develop the vaccine. The president of Burkina Faso has unleashed a major vaccination campaign here, and we fully expect to see impact from this vaccine in the next epidemic season which will be next spring."

    Showing his support, Burkinabe President Blaise Compaore and his wife were there Monday when the first vaccinations were administered to children in the capital, Ouagadougou.

    Mr. Compaore says meningitis kills men, women and children throughout the region. He says thanks to international partnerships and support, we now have a vaccine that was specifically made to fight this epidemic while also being accessible to the population. He says concern now is how to mobilize more than 300 million people across the region to get vaccinated and put an end to recurring epidemics.

    A meningitis outbreak last year killed 5,000 people in sub-Saharan Africa, and the World Health Organization says more 450 million people there are currently at risk of the disease.

    WHO Director-General Margaret Chan applauded the vaccine as a one-time investment that could save tens of thousands of lives by 2015.

    "Twenty-five countries are affected, so Burkina Faso is taking the leadership to launch this campaign which is extremely important," said Chan. "This is the first step. Two other countries, Mali and Niger, will follow, and we hope to be able to get more resources to support the other 22 countries so that their people can benefit from this very effective and affordable vaccine."

    The World Health Organization says an additional $475 million is needed to extend vaccination to all 25 affected countries by 2015.

    You May Like

    Video Obama Remembers Fallen Troops for Memorial Day

    President urges Americans this holiday weekend to 'take a moment and offer a silent word of prayer or public word of thanks' to country's veterans

    Upsurge of Migratory Traffic Across Sahara From West to North Africa

    A report by the International Organization for Migration finds more than 60,000 migrants have transited through the Agadez region of Niger between February and April

    UN Blocks Access to Journalist Advocacy Group

    United Nations has rejected bid from nonprofit journalist advocacy group that wanted 'consultative status,' ranking that would have given them greater access to UN meetings

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

    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.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora