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

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the US are seeing gas prices dip below $3 a gallon More

Afghan Women's Soccer Team Building for the Future

A four-team female league was recently set up in Kabul; It will help identify players for the national team More

Video Koreas on Edge Amid Live-fire Drills

Pyongyang threatens nuclear test as joint US, S. Korean exercises show forces’ capabilities 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.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid