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

Uganda Court Annuls Anti-Gay Law

Court says law was passed in parliament without enough members present for a full quorum More

Multimedia Thailand Makes Efforts to Improve Conditions for Migrant Laborers

In Thailand, its not uncommon for parents to bring their children to work; one company, in-collaboration with other organizations, address safety concerns More

In Indonesia, Jihad Video Raises Concern

Video calls on Indonesians to join Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, ISIL 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.
In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborersi
X
Steve Herman
August 01, 2014 6:22 PM
Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborers

Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video Public Raises its Voice on Power Plant Pollution

In the United States, proposed rules to cut pollution from the nation’s 600 coal-fired power plants are generating a heated debate. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, charged with writing and implementing the plan, has already received 300,000 written comments. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, another 1,600 people are lining up this week at EPA headquarters and at satellite offices around the country to give their testimony in person.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video China Investigates Powerful Former Security Chief

The public in China is welcoming the Communist Party's decision to investigate one of the country's once most powerful politicians, former domestic security chief Zhou Yongkang. Analysts say the move by President Xi Jinping is not only an effort to win more support for the party, but an essential step to furthering much needed economic reforms and removing those who would stand in the way of change. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.

AppleAndroid