An Epidemic Nobody Talks About

While the international community is focused on the H1N1 virus, West Africa is experiencing a meningitis epidemic that could be easily contained but has already killed 1,900 persons and infected more than 56,000.

Médecins sans Frontières (MSF) (aka Doctors without Borders) have launched one of the largest vaccination campaigns in history, in collaboration with the World Health Organization and Chad, Niger and Nigeria governments.

In order to prevent the epidemic to extend, 270 groups of MSF are on the “battle field”, each group being able to vaccinate 1500 persons daily. A minimum of 7 million persons need to be vaccinated for the mass immunization campaign to be efficient.

Since January, more 4 million doses of vaccine have already been distributed to Nigeria and WHO has prepared an emergency vaccine stockpile of 10 million doses. But if the epidemic sweeps through other countries of this area know as the “Meningitis Belt”, they will soon face a vaccine shortage.

Visit the WHO site for more information on Meningococcal Disease: situation in the African Meningitis Belt

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