Nigeria sets pace with rollout of new meningitis vaccine

Nigeria is rolling out the new meningitis vaccine (Men5CV) to fight against a disease that has claimed many lives in the region.
meningitis vaccine
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In a momentous move, Nigeria has launched a novel WHO-recommended meningitis vaccine against Meningococcus bacteria.

Making it the first nation to do so globally.

The jab, named Men5CV, is effective against the 5 main strains of Meningococcal bacteria: A, C, W, Y, and X, serving as a big contrast to the current vaccine existing across Africa, which is only active against the A strain.

About the vaccine

The Men5CV vaccine, funded by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, has taken more than a decade to develop and is the result of a partnership between PATH and the Serum Institute of India.

The project was backed financially by the UK government’s Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office.

Why Nigeria

Situated in the African Meningitis Belt, Nigeria is one of the 26 nations in Africa where meningitis is hyper-endemic. Last year, the continent saw a 50% increase in the number of meningitis cases recorded annually.

According to the WHO, in only 6 months, between October 2023 and March this year, there were 1742 suspected cases of meningitis in Nigeria, leading to 153 deaths in 7 states in the country.

A grim reality on how deadly the disease can be.

“Northern Nigeria, particularly the states of Jigawa, Bauchi and Yobe were badly hit by the deadly outbreak of meningitis, and this vaccine provides health workers with a new tool to both stop this outbreak but also put the country on a path to elimination,” said Prof. Muhammad Ali Pate of the Nigerian Ministry of Health and Social Welfare.

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Cautious optimism

Many, including PATH’s Chief of Africa Region Dr. Nanthalie Mugala, have expressed optimism about winning the fight against meningococcal meningitis with the emergence of this innovation.

“The introduction of MenFive® in Nigeria heralds a transformative era in the fight against meningococcal meningitis in Africa. Building on the legacy of previous vaccination efforts, this milestone reflects over a decade of unwavering, innovative partnerships. The promise of MenFive® lies not just in its immediate impact but in the countless lives it stands to protect in the years to come, moving us closer to a future free from the threat of this disease.” said Dr Nanthalile Mugala, .

It is expected that roll-out through mass preventive campaigns will start in 2025 across countries of the Meningitis Belt – a region that stretches from Senegal in the west to Ethiopia in the east.

Source: World Health Organization (WHO)

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