Protect children in Africa from deadly meningitis


September opened with exhilarating news: A study published in the medical journal The Lancet found the MenAfriVac® vaccine lowered the rate of new cases of meningitis by 94 percent following a 2011 immunization campaign in Chad, West Africa. The study drew global attention to the Meningitis Vaccine Project, a collaboration led by PATH and the World Health Organization (WHO) that developed the MenAfriVac® vaccine.

To evaluate the effectiveness of the mass immunization campaigns, researchers compared the number of new cases of meningitis of any kind in regions with and without vaccination during the 2012 season. They found that the rate was 43.6 per 100,000 people in regions where vaccination did not take place, compared to only 2.5 per 100,000 among those who were vaccinated—a stunning difference. None of the observed cases were caused by group A meningitis. In addition, they found no cases of meningitis among people who lived in vaccination areas but were too young or old to participate. This suggests that the vaccine provides “herd immunity,” helping to protect unvaccinated people by reducing the presence of the disease in their communities.

Additional vaccine rollouts in sub-Saharan Africa are continuing this momentum. In September, a campaign in Sudan reached more than 6.3 million people. And recent introductions in Ethiopia and Nigeria, together with a late-November campaign in The Gambia, will bring MenAfriVac® to millions more. By the end of this year, the total number of young Africans vaccinated since 2010 is expected to reach an astounding 150 million.

Your support is contributing to these and other efforts, bringing tangible hope to families throughout sub-Saharan Africa. Thank you!

The Meningitis Vaccine Project (MVP) is a partnership between PATH and the World Health Organization. Started in 2001 with funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the mission of the MVP is to eliminate meningitis as a public health problem in sub-Saharan Africa through the development, testing, introduction, and widespread use of conjugate meningococcal vaccines. MenAfriVac® is a registered trademark of Serum Institute of India Ltd.


A summer report by the World Health Organization (WHO) brings encouraging news for the fight against epidemic meningitis in sub-Saharan Africa. The number of cases reported during the 2013 epidemic season was the lowest it’s been in a decade. The decrease in cases is thought to be due to the introduction of MenAfriVac®—a vaccine developed by PATH and WHO through the Meningitis Vaccine Project.

Plans are under way for the continued rollout of MenAfriVac® across Africa’s meningitis belt. To date, 10 out of 26 countries have launched mass vaccination campaigns, and by the end of this year, another 2 will join them. The Gambia will vaccinate its whole population of 1- to 29-year-olds (about 1.2 million people), while Ethiopia will take a staggered approach, vaccinating 20 million people this fall in the first of three phases. Nigeria and Sudan will continue their phased introduction of MenAfriVac®.

By the close of 2013, more than 150 million young Africans will have received the lifesaving vaccine since it was first introduced in 2010. This progress wouldn’t be possible without generous contributions from donors. Thank you so much for your support!

MenAfriVac is a registered trademark of Serum Institute of India Ltd.


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.


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.


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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