New meningitis vaccine reaches 19.5 million

Young girl receives MenAfriVac™ shot in Burkina Faso

A few months ago, our friends at PATH, in conjunction with the World Health Organization, set out on a mission to immunize 20 million people in Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger with an affordable new meningitis vaccine, MenAfriVac. Well, we just got word that they pretty much reached that number — they’ve administered the vaccine to nearly 19.5 million people!

Group A meningococcal meningitis has been a problem for sub-Saharan Africans for more than a century. Nearly 450 million people are at risk of getting this brutal illness, which kills one in 10 who become sick and leaves a quarter of survivors deaf or disabled. With the help of the World Health Organization and donors from the US government and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, PATH’s Meningitis Vaccine Project is now armed with a vaccine that could help eliminate group A meningitis from Africa for good.

But there’s still a long way to go — there are still 22 more African countries that are still at risk, and the lack of resources could stall progress. Learn more about the Meningitis Vaccine Project on PATH’s website. And be sure to read our blog series, “Meningitis Vaccine on a Mission” — Kathleen Donnelly from PATH chronicles her experiences with the new vaccine in Africa.

Photo courtesy of the World Health Organization