Public Release: 

African countries announce integration of meningitis vaccine into childhood immunization programs


Global vaccine experts and officials from all 26 African "meningitis belt" countries will convene in Ethiopia next week in advance of the Ministerial Conference on Immunization to celebrate one of Africa's biggest public health achievements -- the introduction of a vaccine that in five years of use has protected more than 235 million people in 16 countries, nearly eliminating meningitis A disease on the continent.

With this "stunning success," high-ranking government officials and experts behind the MenAfriVac® vaccine will be available to discuss, on 22 February, what is now required to sustain this success, and which countries have already taken steps to start integrating the vaccine into their national childhood immunization programs. A recent study found that if no subsequent immunization program was implemented after a large one-off vaccination campaign, countries could expect to see epidemics come roaring back after approximately 15 years.

Members of the media are invited to interview experts, as well as attend sessions of the Meningitis Vaccine Project (MVP) Closure Conference, organized by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the international global health nonprofit PATH. Sessions include a keynote on the project's lifeline and highlights, the development of the vaccine, and its introduction.

WHAT: Media Availability, Expert Sessions and Lunch


  • Steve Davis, President and CEO, PATH
  • Dr. Marc LaForce, former leader of the Meningitis Vaccine Project
  • Dr. Marie-Pierre Preziosi, Medical Officer at the World Health Organization and former leader of the Meningitis Vaccine Project
  • Other experts TBA

WHEN: Monday, 22 February, 2016

  • 8:00 - 8:30 AM: Registration
  • 8:30 AM - 12:30 PM: Reporters invited to attend conference opening session
  • 12:30 - 1:30 PM: Lunch
  • Experts available for interviews by request throughout the day

WHERE: Sheraton Hotel, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

HOW: To schedule an interview and/or attend sessions of the MVP Closure Conference, contact Ellen Wilson at or +1 301 466 3205.


Responding to a call for help from African ministers of health after one of the worst epidemics of meningitis ever seen, WHO and PATH partnered to form the Meningitis Vaccine Project in 2001, which for over 14 years led the development and introduction of a new vaccine against meningitis A. Now, however, the pioneering vaccine development project has ended, and MVP and its partners are working with African government health officials to carefully plan for the next steps in the continued deployment of the PsA-TT vaccine, also known by its trade name of MenAfriVac®.

Epidemics of meningococcal A meningitis, which is a bacterial infection of the thin lining surrounding the brain and spinal cord, have swept across 26 countries in sub-Saharan Africa for a century, killing and disabling young people every year. The disease is highly feared on the continent; it can kill or cause severe brain damage in a child within hours. Epidemics usually start at the beginning of the calendar year when dry sands from the Sahara Desert begin blowing southward.

Before 2010, the epidemics were becoming more frequent and widespread throughout Africa, placing a great burden on individuals, families and the health systems of meningitis belt countries.


About the World Health Organization

WHO is the directing and coordinating authority for health within the United Nations system. It is responsible for providing leadership on global health matters, shaping the health research agenda, setting norms and standards, articulating evidence-based policy options, providing technical support to countries, and monitoring and assessing health trends and improving global health security. Learn more at

About PATH

PATH is the leader in global health innovation. An international nonprofit organization, PATH saves lives and improves health, especially among women and children. PATH accelerates innovation across five platforms--vaccines, drugs, diagnostics, devices, and system and service innovations--that harness our entrepreneurial insight, scientific and public health expertise, and passion for health equity. By mobilizing partners around the world, PATH takes innovation to scale, working alongside countries primarily in Africa and Asia to tackle their greatest health needs. With these key partners, PATH delivers measurable results that disrupt the cycle of poor health. Learn more at

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