News / Africa

New Meningitis Vaccine a Success in Chad

A child receives a meningitis vaccination at the community center in El Daein, East Darfur, Sudan on October 8, 2012.
A child receives a meningitis vaccination at the community center in El Daein, East Darfur, Sudan on October 8, 2012.
TEXT SIZE - +
Jennifer Lazuta
— A study published this month in the Lancet medical journal found a new meningitis vaccine being used in Chad reduced the incidence of the disease by 94 percent.  According to the World Health Organization, meningitis affects nearly half a billion people living in sub-Saharan Africa each year and, even with proper treatment, is often deadly. 
 
Researchers say the first meningitis vaccine developed specifically for Africa has “dramatically reduced” the number of cases of the disease in Chad, as well as prevented its spread.
 
Dr. James Stuart, a professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and a co-author of the study, said his team looked at the effects of what is known as MenAfriVac on 1.8 million people under the age of 29 across three regions in Chad during the 2012 meningitis epidemic.
 
"What we found was that the number of cases dropped dramatically in the part of the country that was vaccinated and that the meningitis epidemic continued in the part of the country that had not been vaccinated," Stuart said.  "So this, although it was not a trial, suggested that the vaccine had a very positive effect on protecting people against meningitis."

Stuart said MenAfriVac, which targets the type-A strain of the disease, completely prevented type A in all of the vaccinated regions.  It also reduced the incidence of all types of meningitis.  
 
According to the World Health Organization, more than one million cases of meningitis, which is the inflammation of the protective tissue that covers the brain and spinal cord, have been reported in Africa since 1988.
 
The highest incidence of the disease occurs in what is known as the “meningitis belt” of sub-Saharan Africa, a strip of 25 countries stretching from Senegal in the west to Ethiopia in the east.
 
No other meningitis vaccines have proven to be as effective as MenAfriVac, Stuart said.
 
"The new vaccine seems to stop people carrying the germ and it stops it therefore from being transmitted, whereas the old vaccine did not have an effect on carriage, so it did not stop the germ being transmitted between people," he said.  "So this new vaccine therefore has a double effect.  One is that it gives you a good individual protection against meningitis, and at the same time, it is actually stopping transmission, so it is actually preventing other people from getting meningitis as well."

Stuart said that such prevention is key when it comes to meningitis, as the disease can spread quickly, passing from person to person via bacteria that live in the throat.  Outbreaks in sub-Saharan Africa are common and have killed as many as 25,000 people at a time.
 
While this particular vaccine is not new, it was licensed in India in 2009 and introduced in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger in December 2010, this was the first time researchers were able to test its effectiveness.

The World Health Organization says antibiotics are available as treatment, but meningitis can lead to serious health problems once contracted, including seizures, deafness, paralysis and brain damage, and that it results in death in about 10 percent of reported cases.  In Chad, the mortality rate has risen as high as 75 percent during outbreaks.
 
Stuart said that MenAfriVac will sell for less than 50 cents per dose in sub-Saharan Africa and can be included as part of routine preventative vaccinations for children.
 
While its longterm effects are still being studied, Stuart said there have been no indications of negative side effects.
 
Following its success in Chad, MenAfriVac has since been used to vaccinate an additional 100 million people against type A meningitis in sub-Saharan Africa.  Stuart said plans are underway to roll out the vaccine in the rest of the meningitis belt countries.

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 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.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid