Communities welcome the new meningitis vaccine
By Bouréima Konaté
The villages of Dègue Dègue and Nofesso are situated sixty kilometres east and south respectfully, from the town of Banfora, in western Burkina Faso. In early December 2010, health centres in these villages were set astir as communities and families gathered in their masses receive the new meningitis vaccine.
The vaccine, known as MenAfriVac, is targeted at children and young people aged from 1 to 29 years old and provides up to ten years protection from the disease. This message, which was spread through mass and interpersonal communication channels, resonated strongly and as a result communities have spared no efforts in getting vaccinated.
Mamina, a 37-year-old woman from the village of Dègue Dègue has come to the health centre with her two children, who are seven months and three years old. She is well aware that only one of her children should receive the new meningitis vaccine. “My son Binta has been vaccinated and I am very happy,” she says. “Meningitis is a disease serious and can kill. Thank goodness my child is now protected against meningitis for the next ten years.”
Mamina has witnessed the devastating impact of this potentially fatal disease with her own eyes. She tells the story of her 21-year-old neighbour who died from meningitis two years ago. Mamina is obviously still very saddened by his death. She has two older children aged eight and ten who have been vaccinated at school. She adds, “This vaccination campaign does not apply to me because of my age. But the most important thing is that my children have been vaccinated.”
Sambo, a 27-year-old man from the village of Nofesso, close to the border with the Ivory Coast, is surrounded by women and children who are all within the targeted age range to receive the vaccine. “I know that meningitis is a serious disease,” he states. “This vaccine is the only way to protect oneself from the illness. We, my two wives, my four children and I, have all been vaccinated. My family is now safe from meningitis.” Sambo acknowledges that the vaccination campaign provides a chance for his village to be protected. The population in Nofesso has been mobilized through various communication interventions to receive the meningitis vaccine. “This vaccine provides us with protection for up to ten years and it is free,” Sambo says.