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Call not published. The World Health Organization (WHO) and its partners launched the First World Guide on Tuesday, September 28th “Conquer Meningitis by 2030”. Characterized by inflammation of the meninges (the layers that protect the brain and spinal cord), the disease is most often transmitted through the respiratory or pharyngeal secretions of infected individuals of viral or bacterial origin. It kills about 250,000 people every year, especially in sub-Saharan Africa.
According to the WHO, the latest outbreak in the northeastern province of Shapo in the Democratic Republic of Congo has affected at least 261 people and killed 129. Diagnostic tests performed by the Institute Pasteur in Paris detect Niseria meningitis (Also known as Meningococcus), Is one of the bacteria that often causes meningitis and it can cause major infections, The international agency said in early September.
The WHO aims to eliminate these infections of bacterial meningitis by half, halve the number of cases and reduce mortality by 70%, by relying on the proliferation of effective vaccines already available or under development. Its strategy: to attack acute bacterial meningitis first – the most dangerous – is caused by four bacteria: Meningococcus, but Pneumococcus, Haemophilus influenzae type B (Hib) and Group B streptococcus. In fact in 2019 alone more than half of those who die with meningitis are registered worldwide.
The initiative echoes the call made by twenty-six countries in 2017 “African Meningitis Belt”, Recalled WHO Project Manager Antoine Durpt. This area from Senegal to Ethiopia is particularly affected by meningococcal meningitis infections. Every year, from January to May, it is a “Meningitis Season” Who could be “Too serious”, The expert noted, recalling the 1996-1997 epidemic, which caused 250,000 contaminants and 25,000 deaths.
The vaccine does not solve all of them
“People have become accustomed to living with the fear of meningitis. This is something that comes to mind a lot [et qui] Can completely deplete health systems, which is devastating. “, Denies Antoine Duropt, citing last decade, “More than 10 million cases” Identified in the area.
Large-scale deployment of multivalent conjugate vaccines targeting several meningococcal serogroups as desired by the WHO on its roadmap “The end of the epidemic over a century” In this area. “Mass vaccines provide direct and mass protection by reducing the transport and transmission of bacteria”, He points out, drawing specifically on the lessons learned through introduction in these countries, in 2010, a vaccine that combines Meningococcus A: “There have been no confirmed cases in the entire meningitis belt since 2017, but in the past 80 to 85% of cases were caused by serogroup A.”
The WHO is therefore focused on achieving high vaccine coverage in all countries with vaccines already available (targeting meningococcus, pneumococcus and Haemophilus influenzae type B), on the development of new, more affordable vaccines that can be supported and expanded by the GAVI Vaccine Alliance, and to prevent and control the spread of diseases.
But the vaccine does not solve all of them. The international agency emphasizes access to rapid diagnosis and treatment of patients, improved epidemiological surveillance and guided prevention and control efforts to identify cases, as well as better monitoring of patients and their consequences, leading to 20% of cases of the disease. For chronic disability.
The fifth and final pillar of the strategy is to raise public awareness, empower actors in the implementation of national plans and affirm the right to prevention, care and follow-up services. According to Antoine Drupt, the WHO plans to oversee the global implementation of this roadmap, which was approved by all member states of the World Health Assembly in November 2020.