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Nigeria becomes first country to introduce new meningitis vaccine

Nigeria has taken the lead in global health efforts by becoming the first country to introduce the new Men5CV vaccine, recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO).

This vaccine, designed to combat five strains of the meningococcus bacteria, marks a significant milestone in the fight against meningitis.

Funded by Gavi – the Vaccine Alliance- which supports lower-income countries with vaccination programs, this initiative highlights Nigeria’s commitment to tackling health challenges head-on.

Nigeria, situated within the African Meningitis Belt, is among the 26 countries grappling with hyper-endemic levels of meningitis.

Vaccine introduction

Last year witnessed a staggering 50% surge in meningitis cases across Africa, highlighting the urgent need for preventive measures.

  • Nigeria itself faced an outbreak of Neisseria meningitidis serogroup C, resulting in 1742 suspected cases, including 101 confirmed cases and 153 fatalities in 7 states between 1 October 2023 and 11 March 2024.
  • To address this crisis, Nigeria launched a vaccination campaign targeting over one million individuals aged 1-29 years, demonstrating a proactive approach to public health emergencies.
  • Meningitis poses a severe threat, causing inflammation of the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord, with bacterial strains being particularly lethal.
  • The introduction of the Men5CV vaccine offers a comprehensive defense against five major meningococcal strains, providing broader protection than existing vaccines.

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General, hailed the introduction of the vaccine as a pivotal moment in the fight against meningitis, emphasizing its potential to save lives and prevent future outbreaks.

  • The Men5CV vaccine, a result of 13 years of collaboration between PATH and the Serum Institute of India, received critical support from the UK government, showcasing the importance of international partnerships in addressing global health challenges.
  • With WHO’s prequalification and endorsement and Gavi’s allocation of resources, the stage is set for a comprehensive immunization campaign against meningitis.

The rollout of the Men5CV vaccine not only represents a significant leap forward in public health but also aligns with WHO’s global roadmap to eliminate meningitis by 2030.


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