Protect children in Africa from deadly meningitis

May 24, 2013

Everyday hope: Safely expanding MenAfriVac

MenAfriVac brings hope to millions of Africans.
MenAfriVac brings hope to millions of Africans.

Outbreaks of deadly and debilitating meningococcal A meningitis once stopped many African communities in their tracks. Now, however, more than 103 million people carry a new hope—protection gained from the MenAfriVac® vaccine. Immunity with just one dose is expected to be long lasting, and as of this update, there has not been a single reported case in a person who has been vaccinated.

With help from you and other partners, the Meningitis Vaccine Project (MVP)—a collaboration between PATH and the World Health Organization—is reaching more people each year. Mass immunization campaigns will introduce MenAfriVac® in Ethiopia and The Gambia in 2013. These efforts—combined with the ongoing rollout of the vaccine in Nigeria and Sudan—could protect 50 million more people in the current age group (1 to 29 years) by the end of the year.

At the same time, we’re thinking even bigger (and smaller): What if infants received this lifesaving protection as part of routine immunizations? Primary results from infant clinical trials are very promising, and we hope to introduce the MenAfriVac® vaccine in routine immunization programs in a couple of years’ time.

Your support is helping MVP bring lifesaving MenAfriVac® to more communities and building a foundation to sustain this crucial protection for years to come. Thank you!

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

Photo: PATH/Gabe Bienczycki.


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.


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.


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.


May 15, 2012

Imagining a world without meningitis

With 54.6 million young Africans now vaccinated against deadly meningitis A in six countries, the Meningitis Vaccine Project—a partnership between PATH and the World Health Organization—has plans under way to reach four new countries with the MenAfriVac™ vaccine by the end of 2012.

Benin, Ghana, Senegal, and Sudan are preparing for their first round of vaccination campaigns to be held later this year. Cameroon, Chad, and Nigeria are preparing for the second phase of their vaccination campaigns after the successful launch of MenAfriVac™ in those countries in December 2011. Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger completed their national vaccination programs in 2010 and 2011.

Each campaign brings us closer to our goal—eliminating epidemic meningitis as a public health problem in sub-Saharan Africa. To date, there have been no reported cases of group A meningococcal meningitis among individuals who received the vaccine. In countries that have introduced MenAfriVac™ at large scale, scientists continue to monitor meningitis activity and vaccine effectiveness.

Building on these successes, clinical trials in The Gambia, Ghana, Mali, and Senegal are helping to build the evidence base for the safe use of MenAfriVac™ and to investigate the level and duration of the protection it offers against disease. These data will also be important in future efforts to seek regulatory approval for the vaccine to be used in infants. This, in turn, would open the door to integrating the vaccine into routine childhood vaccination schedules.

By 2016, it is expected that 320 million people in 25 African countries will have received this lifesaving vaccine. Over the next decade, MenAfriVac™ has the potential to prevent 1 million cases of illness and save 150,000 lives and $300 million in medical costs.


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