NIGERIA—Nigeria has become the first country in the world to use Men5CV, a novel vaccination approved by the World Health Organization (WHO), to protect against five types of Meningococcus bacteria.

This novel vaccine, financed by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, protects against five types of meningococcus bacteria, marking a huge step forward in the fight against this fatal illness.

This vaccine, known as MenFive, gives full immunity against the five primary meningococcal strains—A, C, W, Y, and X—in a single dose, effectively protecting against both meningitis and blood poisoning caused by these strains.

Its introduction represents a significant step forward over the prior vaccination, which primarily addressed the A strain and had limited efficiency.

MenFive is a remarkable success in vaccine research and development, having been developed over 13 years through a cooperation between PATH and the Serum Institute of India, with critical funding from the UK government’s Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office.

Nigeria’s status as one of Africa’s 26 meningitis hyper-endemic nations, along with a recent rise in instances of serogroup C, which resulted in 1742 suspected meningitis cases, 101 confirmed cases, and 153 fatalities in seven of the 36 Nigerian states, highlights the importance of this rollout.

To combat this epidemic, a targeted vaccination effort was launched in March 2024, originally targeting nearly one million people aged one to 29 in the afflicted states of Adamawa, Bauchi, Gombe, Jigawa, Katsina, Yobe, and Zamfara.

This proactive strategy, backed by health professionals and local leaders, indicates Nigeria’s commitment to preventing the spread of meningitis.

Speaking during the rollout, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, expressed optimism about MenFive’s potential to transform the landscape of meningitis prevention, potentially averting future outbreaks and saving countless lives. He reiterated WHO’s commitment to eliminating meningitis globally by 2030.

For his part, Professor Muhammad Ali Pate of the Nigerian Ministry of Health and Social Welfare emphasized the vaccine’s significance in mitigating the outbreak’s impact and steering the country toward elimination.

He highlighted the collaboration with local leaders and the preparedness of health systems to ensure the vaccine’s effective deployment.

The UK Minister for Development and Africa, Andrew Mitchell, underscored the lifesaving impact of the vaccination campaign, aligning with global efforts to defeat meningitis by 2030.

Furthermore, leaders from Gavi, PATH, and other partner organizations hailed the introduction of MenFive as a monumental achievement, heralding a new era in the fight against meningococcal meningitis in Africa.

With WHO’s support, Nigeria has responded swiftly to the meningitis outbreak, bolstering disease surveillance, testing, and healthcare capacity.

Nigeria now sets an example with its vaccination campaign, with the upcoming international summit on meningitis in Paris this April presents an opportunity for global leaders to reinforce commitments towards eliminating meningitis as a public health threat by 2030

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