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WHO inaugurates vaccination in Niger to contain meningitis epidemic



The UN World Health Organsation (WHO) has started a mass vaccination campaign in Niger’s Niamey region in response to an ongoing meningitis outbreak.

The UN health agency, in a statement, said the vaccination campaign against meningitis outbreak began on Thursday.

“More than 2,000 cases were recorded in one week last month and 123 people have died,” the WHO said.

Niger is one of 26 African countries where the disease is endemic and persistently poses a high risk in the so-called African meningitis belt.

The recent surge in cases represents a 50 per cent increase from last year, with a mortality rate exceeding six per cent.

The focus of the epicentre is Niamey region, with an infection rate of more than 52 cases per 100,000 people.

Other regions such as Agadez, Zinder and Dosso also require urgent intervention to confront high infection rates, the UN health agency said.

To help protect at-risk communities, WHO is joining forces with several technical and financial partners to respond to the epidemic with a new vaccine.

Unlike previous jabs, the new meningitis vaccine is single-dose and it protects against five strains of the infection.

Cecilia Ologunagba

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