The UK Department of Health recently granted the World Health Organization (WHO) an urgent donation amounting to more than 157,000 meningococcal C (MenC) meningitis and septicaemia vaccines.
The donated vaccines will be sent to the African Meningitis Belt, where there is currently a meningitis epidemic. This region in sub-Saharan Africa showed signs of an incoming epidemic as early as last fall. Since then, WHO health care workers have been monitoring the area for the outbreak.
To manage the epidemic, WHO officials requested the donated vaccines from the Department of Health. The department approved of the mobile laboratory.
“From February to May 2015, MenC has caused 800 deaths in Nigeria and Niger alone; the number of cases came as a surprise as over the past 40 years,” Olivier Ronveaux, from the WHO, said. “MenC has caused only sporadic cases and a few localized outbreaks in Africa. Already in this dry season we have seen an increase in MenC in a number of regions and so far outbreaks have been reported in 10 areas in Mali, Niger and Nigeria. Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and Burkina Faso have reported sporadic cases."
Releasing the vaccine donations is only possible thanks to the successful MenC vaccination program in the U.K.
“Meningitis Research Foundation applauds the success of the MenC vaccination program in the U.K.,” MRF Chief Executive Vinny Smith said. “Hundreds of young lives in the U.K. have been saved because of MenC vaccine and it has shown the importance of population protection in tackling meningitis and septicaemia.”