PATH

PATH is an international nonprofit organization that creates sustainable, culturally relevant solutions, enabling communities worldwide to break longstanding cycles of poor health. By collaborating with diverse public- and private-sector partners, PATH helps provide appropriate health technologies and vital strategies that change the way people think and act. PATH's work improves global health and well-being.
Feb 25, 2013

Celebrating 100 million

Original report posted on February 25, 2013.
Report revised in June 2013 to remove photo.

Just over two years ago, a child in the African nation of Burkina Faso became the first person to receive a revolutionary new vaccine against deadly meningitis A. Today, PATH and our partners are celebrating another remarkable milestone: more than 100 million people across ten African countries have received that same lifesaving protection.

The president of Benin hosted a celebration in November 2012 marking the 100 millionth person vaccinated with the MenAfriVac® vaccine, an event attended by delegates from many of Africa’s 26 “meningitis belt” countries. The achievement was further recognized in early December at the GAVI Alliance Partners’ Forum in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Since December 2010, the MenAfriVac® vaccine has been introduced in countries across sub-Saharan Africa through mass vaccination campaigns aimed at eliminating epidemic meningitis as a public health problem.

The MenAfriVac® vaccine has significantly reduced the burden of meningitis in those countries. To date, not a single case of group A meningococcal meningitis has been reported in the 54 million people who received one dose of MenAfriVac® in 2010–2011.

MenAfriVac®, a registered trademark of Serum Institute of India Ltd., was developed by PATH and the World Health Organization, at the request of African countries and working with two dozen global collaborators.

Seasonal meningitis A epidemics threaten the lives of 450 million people living in the meningitis belt. The disease causes inflammation of the lining around the brain and the spine that can kill people within 24 to 48 hours. Those who survive often face severe learning difficulties and deafness. Children and young adults are at the highest risk.

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Nov 27, 2012

New flexibility expands vaccine's reach to remote communities

Original report posted on November 27, 2012.
Report revised in June 2013 to remove photo.

The MenAfriVac® vaccine against deadly meningococcal A meningitis will become the first vaccine in Africa approved to be transported and stored for up to four days without refrigeration or icepacks, allowing health workers to reach more people in remote areas of the continent.

After a rigorous regulatory review, authorities found the vaccine to be stable even when exposed to high temperatures. That means the vaccine can be kept in a “controlled temperature chain,” rather than the traditional “cold chain,” for up to four days at temperatures up to 104°F.

The decision is expected to help country governments save money on expensive cold chain equipment and systems used to deliver vaccines to rural areas. And those savings could translate into more lives saved.

The new guideline, announced in November, also represents a potential breakthrough for immunization programs in low-resource countries, building momentum for using the same controlled temperature chain concept with other vaccines.

Benin recently became the tenth country to launch a MenAfriVac® vaccination campaign and the first to pilot the use of the vaccine in a controlled temperature chain based on the new regulatory guidelines. As part of that pilot, 11-year-old Mikael from northern Benin became the first person ever to receive a vaccine distributed through a controlled temperature chain. The protection he now has against meningitis will help ensure he can pursue his dream of becoming a doctor.

The Meningitis Vaccine Project—a partnership between PATH and the World Health Organization—expects that by the end of 2012, more than 100 million people in Africa’s meningitis belt will have received the lifesaving vaccine.

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Aug 24, 2012

Partnering to end epidemic meningitis

This spring, the Meningitis Vaccine Project was recognized with the Vaccine Industry Excellence Award for the PATH–World Health Organization (WHO) collaboration that produced the MenAfriVac™ meningitis A vaccine. The partnership owes much of its success to the funder, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and to the manufacturer of the vaccine, the Serum Institute of India, Ltd. Countless other organizations and experts have contributed over the years, each one playing a critical role in the vaccination of now 58 million young Africans against deadly meningitis.

With MenAfriVac™ introduced in six countries in the meningitis belt, the Cameroon Ministry of Health, WHO, and other partners convened a meeting in Douala, Cameroon, in May to evaluate previous vaccination campaigns. Representatives from countries that have already launched campaigns (Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Niger, and Nigeria) and countries that will launch their first introduction campaigns in 2012 (Benin, Ghana, Senegal, and Sudan) shared experiences and discussed effective procedures to be implemented in future campaigns.

The highlight of our summer vaccination efforts was seeing widespread support for the vaccine as Chad moved into the second phase of introduction. The ten-day campaign sought to vaccinate around 3 million Chadians between the ages of 1 and 29 years. Dedicated immunization staff worked into the evening—and even into the night—to allow field laborers, fishermen, and day-time workers to get vaccinated.

Preparations for the next round of vaccination campaigns continue to advance smoothly. Stay tuned for another update on the MenAfriVac™ roll-out this fall.

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