African Ministerial Conference Celebrates Meningitis A Vaccine Successes, Discusses Vaccination Partnerships, Political Leadership

The Lancet: Vaccines for Africa: a ‘limited market’?
Editorial Board

“African leaders are gathering in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, this week for the first ever Ministerial Conference on Vaccines in Africa. … There are many examples of highly successful African vaccination campaigns on which to base ongoing efforts. The most obvious recent campaign might be that against meningitis A. … As we enter the 2016 meningitis season, the latest figures up to January 24 show 16 confirmed cases of meningitis C (13 in Niger, two in Ghana, and one in Burkina Faso) and only 4.2 million doses of vaccine available for the whole season, most of it only from March. WHO experts cite a ‘limited market’ for the vaccine as a reason for the shortfall. … [I]n the case of Neisseria meningitidis, one serogroup of which caused very recent devastation and another of which is threatening to do the same, the industry’s stance seems shortsighted at best, and irresponsible at worst” (March 2016).

allAfrica: Africa: Why First-Ever Ministerial Conference on Immunization is Critical
Keith Klugman, director for pneumonia at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

“…[D]espite all this progress and the commitment of Africa’s leaders to vaccination programs, the continent still lags behind the rest of the world. … Putting this right is the goal of the first-ever Ministerial Conference on Immunization in Addis Ababa this week. … Immunization programs … require good public health care systems right across the country to ensure all children are vaccinated. Urgent action is all needed to ensure this is put [into] place. We also need to step up education campaigns to overcome misinformation and ignorance about vaccines and to spell out clearly the positive benefits for children, families, and communities. These barriers can only be overcome by working together. But with continued strong political leadership and by building partnerships, we can give every child the protection that vaccines bring. This week’s conference is a major step towards this goal” (2/24).

Huffington Post: Thanks to Vaccines, Meningitis A Is Nearly Eliminated in Africa
Orin Levine, director of vaccine delivery at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

“…The introduction in 2010 of this new vaccine [MenAfriVac] against meningitis A has resulted in one of the biggest immunization success stories in sub-Saharan Africa — near elimination of a deadly infectious disease. … Now we are at a crucial moment — coming together to celebrate the success of [the Meningitis Vaccine Project (MVP)] partnership, share the lessons learned, and carefully plan for future use of the vaccine so that the meningitis A epidemics don’t come roaring back. Countries now need to sustain the protection that initial mass vaccination campaigns provided by putting the vaccine into their routine immunization programs. This means everything from financing and procuring the vaccines to delivering the vaccines and monitoring coverage in communities. African leadership is the key to this success — it’s only through these efforts that we can make this transition successfully and sustain protection against epidemic meningitis…” (2/23).

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