UNICEF and partners vaccinating over 1.1 million people in Guinea to halt meningitis outbreak
CONAKRY, Guinea, 16 June 2014 – This weekend, the Government of Guinea, the World Health Organization, and UNICEF completed a vaccination campaign in the country’s Eastern Region where a recent meningitis outbreak has already caused at least 52 deaths since the beginning of the year.
The campaign, which reached over 95 per cent of those aged 1 to 29 living in the affected areas of Mandiana and Siguiri, lasted for six days. UNICEF and partners reached close to 1,153,000 people. Additionally, local teams have conducted an information campaign on rural radio and through direct community sensitization in gathering places to educate the population about the dangers of meningitis to children and to provide details on the locations of vaccination centres. Furthermore, the cold chain, which keeps the vaccines viable, was strengthened.
“Along with Ebola, Guinea is facing many other health crises,” said Dr. Mohamed Ag Ayoya, Representative, UNICEF Guinea. “We confront measles, malaria, malnutrition, and meningitis. Despite all of these challenges, I am happy to announce on the Day of the African Child, that we were able to complete the meningitis vaccination campaign and protect children from this deadly disease.”
Guinea is located in the “Meningitis Belt” stretching from Senegal to Ethiopia where in the last 15 years there have been an estimated 700,000 cases with a fatality rate of more than 10 per cent. Meningitis is a seasonal disease that tends to be most active during the dry season.
From 2005 to 2010, outbreaks have been recorded in the Guinean districts of Lola, N’Zérékoré, Tougué, Faranah, and Labé for a total of 831 suspected cases with 139 deaths or 16.7% lethality. In the beginning of 2013, the country recorded 85 suspected cases of meningitis and 13 deaths (15.3% fatality rate) and since the beginning of 2014, 539 suspected cases and 52 deaths (9.6% fatality rate) were reported.
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