As a result of the introduction of the MenAfriVac vaccine, meningitis A has been nearly eradicated in Africa.
Public health officials are celebrating and calling it one of the largest health achievements in the continent's history.
“Our great success against meningitis A is by no means permanent,” Matshidiso Moeti, World Health Organization (WHO) regional director for Africa, said. “To sustain the protection that has been afforded to date against meningitis A, all at-risk countries must finish conducting vaccination campaigns and begin incorporating the vaccine into routine childhood immunization programs.”
The number of cases of the disease went from more than 250,000 in 1996 to 80 reported cases in 2015. Health officials are planning to integrate the vaccine into routine health screenings.
“We have achieved something truly historic with MenAfriVac — creating an affordable, effective, tailor-made vaccine for Africa,” Steve Davis, president and CEO of PATH, said. “In another breakthrough, the vaccine does not require constant refrigeration and is the first vaccine to be authorized by WHO for use at ambient temperatures of up to 40°C (104°F) for up to four days.”
Other affected countries are looking to implement the immunization, as well.