GAVI Alliance Vaccines Help Eliminate Deadly Meningitis Strain in Uganda

by Thilaka Ravi on  March 11, 2008 at 4:35 PM Drug News
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Vaccines funded by the GAVI Alliance initiative, have virtually eliminated a deadly strain of meningitis, the public-private partnership said on Monday.
GAVI Alliance Vaccines Help Eliminate Deadly Meningitis Strain in Uganda
GAVI Alliance Vaccines Help Eliminate Deadly Meningitis Strain in Uganda

Hib meningitis (Haemophilus influenzae type b) has been virtually wiped out in the East African country just five years after the vaccine was introduced nationwide, GAVI said in a statement.

Hib kills around 400,000 children under the age of five each year, mostly in the developing world.

'The Ugandan immunisation programme now prevents almost 30,000 cases of severe Hib disease and 5,000 child deaths,' the statement said.

Uganda introduced 16.5 million doses of Hib vaccines from 2002 to 2006 thanks to support from the GAVI initiative.

The incidence rate dropped by 85 percent within four years and fell to zero in the fifth year.

'Thanks to the collaborative efforts of the Ugandan Ministry of Health, the WHO, UNICEF and other partners, we can applaud a true success in controlling this deadly disease that has too often claimed so many lives,' said GAVI Alliance executive secretary Julian Lob-Levyt.

The GAVI board approved additional funding for the Hib vaccine last November, with 44 countries now having approved proposals for vaccine use.

Meningitis is an inflammation of the membranes that cover the brain and spinal form. The bacterial form of the disease can be life-threatening and needs emergency care.

The World Health Organisation warned last year that West Africa faces a meningitis epidemic in 2008.

Source: AFP
THK/L

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