Immunization, Vaccines and Biologicals

The Meningitis Vaccine Project - contributing partners

In collaboration with the Meningitis Vaccine Project and PATH
6 December 2010

Partners

Meningitis Vaccine Project

The Meningitis Vaccine Project (MVP), established in 2001, is a partnership between PATH and the World Health Organization. Its mission is to eliminate epidemic meningitis as a public health problem in sub-Saharan Africa through the development, testing, introduction, and widespread use of conjugate meningococcal vaccines.

The Project would not have been possible without the initial grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation of US$ 70 million, or indeed, the financial support of other donors, including the United States Agency for International Development, the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Research Council of Norway and the Fondation Mérieux.

The Project has been fortunate to benefit from strong collaborations with public and private entities across the world with expertise in pharmaceutical development, vaccine manufacturing, clinical and laboratory work, regulatory issues, disease surveillance and vaccine introduction.

World Health Organization

The World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations’ technical agency for health, provides leadership on global health matters; shapes the health research agenda; sets norms and standards; articulates evidence-based policy options; provides technical support to countries; and assesses health trends.

One of the core partners of MVP, WHO has provided overall project guidance and technical advice; coordinated the clinical development of MenAfriVac, ensuring that trials have been conducted with independent scientific, ethical and regulatory oversight at all stages; supported enhanced disease surveillance in target countries; assisted countries in preparatory activities for vaccine introduction, in particular the set-up of pharmacovigilance systems, logistics frameworks and financial sustainability mechanisms; and fostered training opportunities for countries and partners.

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.

Headquartered in Seattle, Washington, PATH has offices in 31 cities in 22 countries. PATH currently works in more than 70 countries in the areas of health technologies, maternal and child health, reproductive health, vaccines and immunization, and emerging and epidemic diseases.

As a core partner of MVP, PATH provides overall project management and has contributed its significant expertise in business development, vaccine development, and vaccine testing. PATH identified the commercial partners for vaccine development and manufacturing, negotiated agreements, and led the pharmaceutical, clinical, and regulatory development work which resulted in the licensing and prequalification of MenAfriVac.

Ministries of health across the African meningitis belt

One of the most critical elements of the development and introduction of MenAfriVac has been the commitment of ministries of health across the African “meningitis belt” (comprising Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Chad, Côte d'Ivoire, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, the Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Togo, and Uganda). During a 1996 meeting of ministers from 16 African countries, epidemic meningitis was recognized as a high priority. Country representatives met with WHO staff in April 2000 and, following the evaluation of a number of proposals, endorsed the goal of the immediate development of an affordable conjugate vaccine for Africa. Gathering for a meeting of the WHO Regional Committee for Africa in 2008, the health ministers of the countries of the meningitis belt signed a declaration committing themselves to introducing the new meningitis vaccine candidate when it became available. Health officials in key target countries in Africa have worked in partnership with WHO and PATH throughout the Project, such that MVP partners have learnt much about the specific needs and opportunities in the countries of the region, and target countries have been able to strengthen systems for disease surveillance, clinical development, pharmacovigilance, vaccine regulation and vaccine logistics.