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HEALTH FACT: Nigeria is the first country to roll out meningitis vaccine worldwide

In April 2024, Nigeria became the first country in the world to roll out a “revolutionary” five-in-one vaccine against meningitis, the World Health Organization (WHO) stated in a statement.

Muhammad Ali Pate, minister of health and social welfare
Muhammad Ali Pate, minister of health and social welfare

In April 2024, Nigeria became the first country in the world to roll out a “revolutionary” five-in-one vaccine against meningitis, the World Health Organization (WHO) stated in a statement.

According to WHO, the Men5CV vaccine offers a powerful shield against the five major strains of the meningococcal bacteria – A, C, W, Y and X – which cause the disease. 

The MenFive provides broader protection than the vaccine currently used in much of Africa, which is only effective against the A strain. 

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director-general said: “Meningitis is an old and deadly foe, but this new vaccine holds the potential to change the trajectory of the disease, preventing future outbreaks and saving many lives.” 

The rollout in Nigeria represents one step closer towards the goal of total elimination by 2030, he added. 

Meningitis is the inflammation of the tissues surrounding the brain and spinal cord and can be fatal. Symptoms often include headache, fever and stiff neck. 

Meningitis have different causes which include viral, bacterial, fungal and parasitic pathogens. The most serious—bacterial meningitis—can also result in blood poisoning and can seriously disable or kill within 24 hours after being contracted.   

According to WHO, Nigeria falls among the 26 meningitis hyper-endemic countries in Africa. The country lost 153 people in an outbreak in Nigeria between 1 October 2023 and 11 March of this year. 

In March, the country launched a vaccination campaign to reach more than a million people from the age of 29 years downward. 

“Northern Nigeria, particularly the states of Jigawa, Bauchi and Yobe were badly hit by the deadly outbreak of meningitis, and this vaccine provides health workers with a new tool to both stop this outbreak but also put the country on a path to elimination,” said Prof. Muhammad Ali Pate of the Nigerian Ministry of Health and Social Welfare. 

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