50 million people to receive meningitis vaccine in West AfricaListen /
Over 50 million people are to be immunized against seasonal meningitis in West Africa over the next three months.
The immunization campaign is to cover seven countries including Benin, Cameroun, Chad, Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal and Sudan.
The seven countries are vulnerable to severe seasonal outbreaks of meningitis with up to 430 million people at risk from the illness which can kill within 48 hours.
Dr Seth Berkely who heads the GAVI Alliance says the vaccination drive will ensure those at high risk and in particular children and young adults are vaccinated by the end of December.
"Nobody really understands exactly why just in that region. But every five to seven years there would be an epidemic. There would be hundreds of thousands if not millions of cases. And it would completely drive the economies to a halt. People would avoid getting together, they would have to set up treatment facilities for mass treatment. And for those who didn't die of meningitis, there was very serious sequela. So you ended up with children who had hearing loss and brain abscesses and all kinds of problems."