Nigeria Pioneers Breakthrough Meningitis Vaccine Rollout


Nigeria has achieved a significant milestone by becoming the first country to introduce a groundbreaking five-in-one vaccine against meningitis, announced the World Health Organization (WHO) in a statement on Friday.

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The Men5CV vaccine, marketed under the brand name MenFive, offers robust protection against the five major strains of meningococcal bacteria – A, C, W, Y, and X – that cause the disease. This vaccine represents a substantial advancement over existing vaccines in Africa, which primarily target the A strain.

WHO Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, emphasized the importance of this new vaccine in combatting meningitis, a persistent and deadly disease. He expressed optimism that this rollout in Nigeria marks a critical step towards eliminating meningitis by 2030, potentially averting future outbreaks and saving numerous lives.

Meningitis, characterized by inflammation around the brain and spinal cord, is a severe condition that can be fatal. Symptoms include headache, fever, and neck stiffness. Bacterial meningitis, the most serious form, can cause blood poisoning and lead to death within a day of infection.

Nigeria is situated within the African Meningitis Belt, a region with high endemicity of meningitis. WHO reported that Nigeria witnessed 153 deaths during an outbreak between October 2023 and March 2024. In response, a large-scale vaccination campaign was launched in late March, targeting over one million individuals aged 29 and below.

Prof. Muhammad Ali Pate of the Nigerian Ministry of Health and Social Welfare highlighted the impact of the vaccine, particularly in hard-hit regions like Jigawa, Bauchi, and Yobe. The introduction of this new vaccine equips health workers with a potent tool to halt ongoing outbreaks and progress towards the eradication of meningitis.

WHO underscored the potential of the Men5CV vaccine to substantially reduce meningitis cases, marking a critical stride towards defeating the disease, especially in countries like Nigeria where multiple meningitis strains are prevalent.

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