Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus 

WHO hails Nigeria’s groundbreaking launch of Meningitis vaccine


In a landmark move hailed by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a global first, Nigeria has rolled out a “revolutionary” vaccine against meningitis, a deadly disease that has plagued the African continent for decades.


WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus lauded Nigeria’s initiative, stating that the new vaccine has the potential to transform the fight against meningitis and save countless lives.

The Men5CV vaccine, developed to combat the five major strains of the meningococcal bacteria (A, C, W, Y, and X), offers broader protection than existing vaccines used in much of Africa, which are effective only against the A strain.

Last year, Africa witnessed a 50 per cent surge in meningitis cases, highlighting the urgent need for improved prevention and control measures.

Nigeria, with a population of 220 million, is among the 26 hyper-endemic countries in Africa, and it forms part of the African Meningitis Belt.

During a recent outbreak in Nigeria between October 1 and March 11, 153 lives were lost to meningitis. Nigeria launched a mass vaccination campaign funded by Gavi, the global Vaccine Alliance, to address this crisis.

The campaign aimed to vaccinate over one million individuals aged one to 29 years, with a focus on the northern states of Jigawa, Bauchi, and Yobe, which were severely affected by the outbreak.

Professor Muhammad Ali Pate, Nigeria’s Health Minister, emphasized the significance of the new vaccine in halting outbreaks and advancing the country towards eliminating meningitis.

His words: “The introduction of the Men5CV vaccine marks a significant milestone in Nigeria’s efforts to combat meningitis and protect its population from this deadly disease.

“With broader protection against multiple strains, the vaccine represents a crucial step towards achieving WHO’s goal of eliminating meningitis by 2030.”

Meningitis, characterized by inflammation of the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord, poses a grave threat due to its rapid onset and severity.

While bacterial meningitis is the most severe form, causing septicaemia and potentially fatal consequences within 24 hours, meningitis infections can result from various pathogens, including viruses, bacteria, fungi, and parasites.

Newsng had earlier reported that Nigeria recently achieved a significant milestone by becoming the first country to receive the new MenFive vaccine from the Gavi-funded global stockpile.

Nigeria requested the deployment of 1,043,377 doses of MenFive, and the World Health Organization’s International Coordinating Group (ICG) on Vaccine Provision authorized it.

It is the only vaccination that offers defence against meningococcal serogroup X, and it protects against the five main serogroups of meningococcal meningitis that affect Africa: meningococcal serogroups A, C, W, Y, and X.

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