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Three West African Countries Set To Roll Out New Meningitis Vaccine

A new vaccine for meningitis, MenAfriVac, “offers hope of an escape from one of the world’s deadliest, most disabling and infectious diseases,” the BBC writes. The vaccine was developed by non-governmental organization PATH in partnership with the WHO and “created specifically for Africa.”

“The vaccine has now passed the WHO’s stringent global vaccine quality checks and is at the final safety-check stage in West Africa,” the news service notes.

BBC looks at the development of the vaccine by Meningitis Vaccine Project, which negotiated intellectual property deals and found a manufacturer to create a cheaper version of the meningitis vaccine, which currently costs “well over $50 a dose, according to some estimates” (Anderson, 10/14).

“Health workers in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger – the three countries selected for introduction of the vaccine – are preparing for country-wide campaigns set for December, having just completed a limited pilot phase,” IRIN reports.

“This vaccine, which targets the bacterium [meningococcus A] most frequently causing epidemics, is about preventing epidemics, not waiting, then reacting,” Mamoudou Harouna Djingarey of the Meningitis Vaccine Project (MVP) said. “Up to now countries in the region vaccinated communities only once an outbreak had started,” IRIN writes.

Marie-Pierre Preziosi, a medical officer at the WHO, said funding is available to start the vaccine campaigns in the three countries, “but there is a funding gap of $475 million to complete these drives and to roll out in the other meningitis belt countries” (10/14).

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