Panafrican News Agency

Some 6 million children to be vaccinated against meningitis in Niger

Niamey, Niger (PANA) – Some six million children, aged between 1 and 7 years, will be vaccinated against meningitis A during a campaign that began on Tuesday, the Niger ministry of Health said on Wednesday.

More than US$3 million dollars has been raised by the government and its partners, particularly GAVI, WHO, UNICEF and Rotary International for the campaign.

The objective of the campaign is to reduce morbidity and mortality linked to meningitis in Niger, by reaching 100% of target. The campaign ends on 11 March. 

"Since 2010, the eradication of meningitis A has been a worldwide public health emergency programme after poliomyelitis," said the Niger minister of Health, Dr Illiassou Mainassara.

He said that despite efforts made in the fight against transmittable diseases in general and meningitis in particularly, a persistence of epidemics linked to the disease persist.

Despite the nationwide vaccination campaign launched in 2012, a large number of children aged between 1 and 7 years remain vulnerable, hence the need to maintain the campaign, said the minister.

According to the representative of the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Niger, Dr Anaya Blanche, in less than 10 years, Niger has successfully introduced several vaccines while the number of vaccines available in routine vaccination has doubled.

The vaccines are those against pneumococcal infections, rota-virus diarrhoea, the second dose of vaccines against measles, the vaccine against meningitis A, vaccines against poliomyelitis, as well as a pilot programme conducted successfully in three districts for the introduction of a vaccine against human papilloma virus, which protects girls against cervical cancer.

She said that Niger is among the first West African countries, with Mali and Burkina Faso, who have benefited from campaigns using vaccines between 2010 and 2011, which led to Niger vaccinating more than 14.59 million people aged between 1 and 29 years.

Meningitis is a disease that constitutes a main public health concern in 26 countries of the meningitis belt. That belt is a strip that stretches from Senegal and Gambia in west to Ethiopia in the east.

Sub-Saharan Africa has experienced those repeated meningitis epidemics for more than one century.

-0- PANA SA/JSG/MSA/MA 6March2019