WHO launches drive to fight bacterial meningitis in Africa

Sep 8, 2022, 9:42 AM | Updated: 9:50 am
FILE - Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, World Health Organization's regional director for Africa, sits in her ...

FILE - Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, World Health Organization's regional director for Africa, sits in her office in Brazzaville, Congo, on Feb. 8, 2022. The World Health Organization on Thursday Sept. 8, 2022 said it is launching a $1.5 billion campaign, hopefully including a new vaccine, to eliminate outbreaks of bacterial meningitis across Africa by 2030. In "a race against time," WHO regional director for Africa Matshidiso Moeti said that "a next generation" vaccine against meningitis will be rolled out in 26 African countries most affected by the disease. (AP Photo/Moses Sawasawa, File)

(AP Photo/Moses Sawasawa, File)

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) — The World Health Organization on Thursday said it is launching a $1.5 billion campaign, hopefully including a new vaccine, to eliminate outbreaks of bacterial meningitis across Africa by 2030.

Meningitis vaccinations for more than 50 million children in Africa have been delayed amid the COVID-19 pandemic, prompting fears of a resurgence of the deadly disease.

In “a race against time,” WHO regional director for Africa Matshidiso Moeti said that “a next generation” vaccine against meningitis will be rolled out in 26 African countries most affected by the disease.

She said WHO hopes to authorize the vaccine by the first quarter of 2023, which would then enable donors to buy it for Africa.

Moeti said the vaccine, “has shown in clinical trials to be safe and effective against multiple forms of meningitis.”

The vaccine could be rolled out next year and administered in widespread drives until 2030, when the WHO hopes to have stopped bacterial meningitis outbreaks in the continent of 54 countries and 1.3 billion people, she said.

WHO estimated the plan could save more than 140,000 people every year — but that depends on the shot’s availability and health officials being able to administer it.

Although no new cases of meningitis A have been recorded in the past five years on the continent due to a robust vaccination program, the outbreak of the COVID -19 pandemic and attendant restrictions has left “hundreds of millions” of Africans at risk, said Moeti.

Meningitis had “somewhat dropped off the radar” but could now take “an enormous toll on our countries, with COVID-19 threatening some of the extensive gains that had been made in the past,” she said during a weekly briefing.

WHO says its reports show that meningitis control activities were reduced by 50% in 2020 compared to 2019 before the COVID-19 outbreak in Africa, although “a slight improvement” was recorded in 2021.

Children are most threatened according to WHO data that shows about half of meningitis cases and deaths occur in children under 5 years of age.

More than 350 million people in 24 high-risk African countries received jabs of the vaccine since 2010, until the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic slowed down progress.

Meningitis is a serious infection of the membranes protecting the brain and spinal cord, according to WHO. It is caused by “many different pathogens” that include fungi, viruses and bacteria. Bacterial meningitis is the most deadly, according to the WHO.

Carriers can spread the disease through respiratory or throat fluids via close and prolonged contact like kissing, sneezing or coughing or living close to an infected person.

Meningitis has the potential to cause epidemics and it can lead to death within 24 hours, while one in five patients are left with lifelong disability after infection, according to the WHO.

Symptoms include headache, a stiff neck, sudden onset of fever, nausea or vomiting, feeling drowsy or confused, or developing a sudden dislike of bright light, according to the WHO.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Associated Press

After storms, NYC moving location of planned migrant shelter

NEW YORK (AP) — A facility using giant tents to temporarily house migrants being sent to New York City will now be located closer to Manhattan instead of a remote corner of the Bronx, Mayor Eric Adams announced Monday, after weekend storms raised concerns over flooding at the original site. The city’s humanitarian relief center […]
20 hours ago
Las Vegas Raiders running back Josh Jacobs (28) scores a touchdown against the Denver Broncos durin...
Associated Press

Justices won’t revive Oakland’s lawsuit over loss of Raiders

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court on Monday rejected Oakland’s last-ditch effort to revive an antitrust lawsuit against the National Football League over the Raiders’ move to Las Vegas in 2020. The city had been seeking hundreds of millions of dollars in its claim that the league violated federal antitrust law by acting like a […]
20 hours ago
Navy Rear Adm. John Wade, commander of Joint Task Force Red Hill, speaks to reporters at a media ro...
Associated Press

Navy admiral to seek community input on Red Hill fuel tanks

JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii (AP) — The commander of the task force responsible for draining fuel from a World War II-era storage tank facility that leaked jet fuel and poisoned Pearl Harbor’s tap water last year said Monday he’s exploring ways to get community feedback. Rear Adm. John Wade told reporters at a news […]
20 hours ago
FILE - Democrat Charles Booker speaks to a group of supporters following his victory in the Kentuck...
Associated Press

Booker brands GOP Sen. Rand Paul as ‘barrier’ to progress

Democrat Charles Booker railed against Republican U.S. Sen. Rand Paul as a “barrier” to progress Monday night as he made a pitch to Kentucky voters in a solo appearance on statewide television. Booker, a former state lawmaker, touted his plans to expand health care access, stoutly defended his support for abortion rights and said policymakers […]
20 hours ago
Immigrants gather with their belongings outside St. Andrews Episcopal Church, Wednesday Sept. 14, 2...
Associated Press

Reports: Migrant flights’ mysterious recruiter identified

SAN ANTONIO (AP) — The mysterious woman who allegedly lured dozens of migrants on Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ flights to Martha’s Vineyard from San Antonio has been identified by several media outlets as Perla H. Huerta, a former combat medic and U.S. Army counterintelligence agent living in Tampa. The New York Times reported late Sunday […]
20 hours ago
FILE - Mark Kampf, the winner of the Republican Party primary in the Nye County clerk's race, speak...
Associated Press

Nevada county’s plans to hand-count early ballots challenged

RENO, Nev. (AP) — A rural county in Nevada where conspiracy theories about voting machines run deep is planning to start hand-counting its mail-in ballots two weeks before Election Day, a process that risks public release of early voting results. Several voting and civil rights groups said Monday they objected to the proposal and will […]
20 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Sanderson Ford

Don’t let rising fuel prices stop you from traveling Arizona this summer

There's no better time to get out on the open road and see what the beautiful state of Arizona has to offer. But if the cost of gas is putting a cloud over your summer vacation plans, let Sanderson Ford help with their wide-range selection of electric vehicles.
...
Mayo Clinic Orthopedics and Sports Medicine

Why your student-athlete’s physical should be conducted by a sports medicine specialist

Dr. Anastasi from Mayo Clinic Orthopedics and Sports Medicine in Tempe answers some of the most common questions.
...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Most plumbing problems can be fixed with regular maintenance

Instead of waiting for a problem to happen, experts suggest getting a head start on your plumbing maintenance.
WHO launches drive to fight bacterial meningitis in Africa