Eliminating epidemic meningitis as a public health problem in sub-Saharan Africa
Introduction and impact of a new group A meningococcal conjugate vaccine in Africa
The Meningitis Vaccine Project (MVP) began its history back in early 2000 when a WHO expert concluded that the development of a meningococcal conjugate vaccine offered an opportunity for epidemic control in sub-Saharan Africa. In April 2000, a group of international experts and delegates from African ministries of health endorsed the initiative. The initiative was further boosted by support form the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which agreed to fund the MVP.
The introduction of MenAfrivac in sub-Saharan countries was not without its challenges. It was first introduced in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger in September to December 2010. The strategy of this bold initiative was mass vaccination of 1-29 year old with a single dose of Men A conjugate to induce strong herd immunity. The next step was to protect the new birth cohorts, beginning with follow-up campaigns of every 5-14 year old or routine immunization of toddlers and infants. The current project objectives are to finalize a sound paediatric indication for the vaccine and to support a continued roll-out of the vaccine in the sub-Saharan belt.
Another concept that the initiative is looking to collaborate on is the concept of Controlled Temperature Chain or CTC. WHO and PATH are collaborating with the Drug Controller General of India, Health Canada and Serum Institute of India to obtain a license variation for MenAfriVac™, the meningitis A conjugate vaccine developed through the Meningitis Vaccine Project. This variation will allow countries to distribute the vaccine in a controlled temperature chain (CTC) outside the traditional 2°C to 8°C range. In countries with some of the weakest supporting infrastructure, the logistical challenges of maintaining the cold chain—from faltering electricity, poorly functioning or absent equipment, to ice pack production—are immense. Unpublished data shows that MenAfriVac™ has proven stable at temperatures of 40°C for limited periods of time. This indicates that the vaccine could be safely distributed outside of the 2°C to 8°C range for a specific period under controlled conditions during campaign activities.
Jean-Marie Preaud, Pharmaceutical Operations, Meningitis Vaccine Project, PATH joined us at the World Vaccine Congress Lyon 2012 to give further details about this project. Why not download his presentation to find out more about this initiative and the incredible work of the Meningitis Vaccine Project.