In a follow-up on the meningitis outbreak in Niger in western Africa, officials figures put the number of meningitis C case at 1199, including 87 deaths.
According to Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), who has been on deployed to the country supporting Niger health authorities, the outbreak has affected every region of the country, with the western part of the country hit especially hard.
They do report the number of weekly cases is now decreasing; however, there are insufficient stocks of vaccine available to protect those at risk in the event of another outbreak of the disease.
MSF reports: According to the preparedness and response plan for meningitis epidemics in Niger, 2.8 million people should be vaccinated if an outbreak affects 21 health districts. However, so far immunization campaigns have been carried out in only six of these 21 districts. “The problem is that, nationally and globally, not enough meningitis C vaccines are available and the vaccine is expensive. Manufacturers need to urgently increase their production and sell it at an affordable price, but they are not doing so,” says Dr Idrissa Compaoré, a medical coordinator for MSF.
“If we don’t have vaccines, it is essential that we identify and confirm new cases as soon as possible, to prevent the disease from spreading. Information must be collected and shared, and patients treated without delay,” says Dr Idrissa Compaoré.
Last year, Niger had an outbreak of meningococcal meningitis that affected more than 8,000 and killed hundreds.