A public health breakthrough

Following the devastating epidemic of 1996–1997 (with more than 250,000 cases of disease and over 25,000 deaths), African leaders called for the development of a vaccine that would eliminate, once and for all, group A meningitis epidemics in Africa.

The Meningitis Vaccine Project (MVP)—a collaboration of the World Health Organization (WHO) and PATH—partnered with Serum Institute of India, Limited (SIIL) and public health officials across Africa to develop an affordable, tailor-made vaccine for use against meningitis A in sub-Saharan Africa. MenAfriVac® was developed in record time at less than one tenth the cost of a typical new vaccine.

The introduction of MenAfriVac® in 2010 via mass vaccination campaigns has had an immediate and dramatic impact in breaking the cycle of meningitis A epidemics. Since then, more than 217 million people in 15 countries have received the vaccine. Learn more in the final issue of the MVP News Digest (167 KB PDF).

While this project has concluded, the work goes on:

WHO and partners are working with countries in the African meningitis belt to ensure a smooth transition from mass campaigns to routine immunization to achieve sustainable disease control in the region, as well as to improve the response to meningitis outbreaks and strengthen global understanding of the disease. Several countries are already making plans to introduce the vaccine into routine immunization systems as soon as 2016. Learn more on the WHO website.

PATH is working with in-country and global partners to ensure the sustainable use of MenAfriVac® and the long-term control of Meningitis A epidemics in the meningitis belt. Learn more on the MVP program website.

Please note that this site is no longer maintained by PATH or WHO, and more current information may be available on the websites listed above. Use data/information at your own risk—see further legal disclaimer (19 KB PDF).

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“There is no point in having a vaccine if you cannot roll it out. This is a story for donors, who increasingly need to know that the money which is going into developing countries is actually having an impact, and this is a very good example of something which has a clear and measurable impact.”
—Helen Evans, interim chief executive officer at GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance, Kyodo News, 7 December 2010.