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.