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.
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 Brussels Schools, Metro Reopen Under Heavy Guard

City remains under the highest threat alert level due to what authorities have described as a 'serious and imminent' threat of attack

Video Debt-ridden Refugees Await Onslaught of Lebanese Winter

Aid agencies are attempting to reduce potentially devastating consequences of freezing conditions and snowstorms that killed eight last year, including three Syrian refugees

UN Warns Air Pollution in Asia Pacific Has Rising Cost

Globally some seven million people a year die prematurely due to indoor and outdoor pollution with about 70 per cent of those deaths in region

This forum has been closed.
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.
After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against ISi
November 24, 2015 3:04 AM
The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs