Nigeria becomes first country to roll out new meningitis vaccine: WHO

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In a historic move, Nigeria has become the first country in the world to roll out a new vaccine (called Men5CV) recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO), which protects people against five strains of the meningococcus bacteria. The vaccine and emergency vaccination activities are funded by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, which funds the global meningitis vaccine stockpile, and supports lower-income countries with routine vaccination against meningitis, WAM reports. 

Nigeria is one of the 26 meningitis hyper-endemic countries of Africa, situated in the area known as the African Meningitis Belt. Last year, there was a 50% jump in annual meningitis cases reported across Africa.

In Nigeria, an outbreak of Neisseria meningitidis (meningococcus) serogroup C outbreak led to 1742 suspected meningitis cases, including 101 confirmed cases and 153 deaths in seven of 36 Nigerian states between 1 October 2023 and 11 March 2024. To quell the deadly outbreak, a vaccination campaign has been undertaken on 25--28 March 2024 to initially reach more than one million people aged 1-29 years.

“Meningitis is an old and deadly foe, but this new vaccine holds the potential to change the trajectory of the disease, preventing future outbreaks and saving many lives,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. “Nigeria’s rollout brings us one step closer to our goal to eliminate meningitis by 2030.”

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