Severe shortage of meningitis vaccines in West Africa

Severe shortage of meningitis vaccines in West Africa | Courtesy of

Agencies and partners of the United Nations recently announced a warning about an “acute shortage” of meningitis vaccines in West Africa.

Because of the shortage, West Africa faces a significant risk of severe meningitis outbreak.

The only way to sidestep the shortage would be for drug manufacturers to raise vaccine production by five million doses. These would need to be produced before meningitis season begins in Jan. 2016.

“We have had preliminary discussions with vaccine manufacturers and impressed upon them the need to produce a stockpile of five million doses of vaccine so as to be ready for flare-ups of the disease next year in Africa, but so far they haven’t yet revised their production plans to meet demand,” Dr. Imran Mirza, a health specialist with the U.N. Children's Fund (UNICEF), said.

Several health organizations have joined, including UNICEF, the World Health Organization (WHO), Medecins sans Frontieres (MSF) and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), to warn the public about the shortage.

“An acute shortage of meningitis C-containing vaccine threatens to severely limit the world’s ability to minimize the number of people affected,” the warning statement said. “Much work needs to be done to protect the African meningitis belt from meningitis C outbreaks.”

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