President of Burkina Faso launches first nationwide campaign with new meningitis vaccine
Burkina Faso today became the first country, following a ceremony in Ouagadougou hosted by the President, Blaise Compaoré, to introduce in a nationwide campaign a new meningitis vaccine which is expected to eliminate meningococcal A epidemics in Africa.
Designed specifically to protect against group A meningococcus, which accounts for 80-85% of cases of meningitis in the 25 countries of the African "meningitis belt", the vaccine is priced at less than US$ 0.50 per dose, and cost less than one-tenth of the US$ 500 million usually required to develop and bring a vaccine to market.
Developed by the Meningitis Vaccine Project ˜ a partnership between WHO and the international non-profit organization PATH ˜ the new vaccine, MenAfriVac, provides African health authorities, for the first time, with an affordable, long-term solution that protects even young children against meningitis A.
Mali and Niger are also beginning nationwide campaigns with the new vaccine in December. It is expected that, if the funding gap of US$ 475 million is met, all 25 countries in the meningitis belt will be using the vaccine by 2015.