The Meningitis Vaccine Project - where we are today
At the end of 2011, Cameroon, Chad and Nigeria are vaccinating more than 22 million individuals aged 1-29 years with the new meningococcal A conjugate vaccine, MenAfriVac, which has the potential to eliminate the leading cause of meningitis epidemics in Africa.
In these audio files (in French), four individuals closely involved either in the clinical trials for the vaccine, the organization of mass campaigns, or the health of those living in a rural community participating in the trials, talk about their work and the impact that the vaccine is expected to have on the health of people living in the meningitis belt.
In December 2010, the new vaccine was introduced in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger. Developed through collaboration between the Meningitis Vaccine Project (WHO and the international non-profit organization PATH), an Indian vaccine manufacturer and public health officials in India and several African countries, the vaccine is superior to existing meningococcal vaccines in several ways: the duration of protection is longer, it protects young children, it has the potential to generate herd immunity, and is sold at a price affordable for Africa.
It is expected that, by 2016, the 25 African countries in the region known as the "meningitis belt", will have introduced the vaccine in mass campaigns, with a total of 300 million people vaccinated.
The introduction of the vaccine was only possible following years of clinical trials. The human trials began six years ago, in India. Since then, nearly 10 000 people have participated in trials in the Gambia, Ghana, India, Mali and Senegal. Clinical trials are continuing — to determine the duration of protection conferred by the vaccine, and the optimum schedule for its future introduction into routine immunization programmes.