PATH, World Health Organization, and Partners Introduce Meningitis Vaccine in Burkina Faso

Sep 26, 2007, 01:00 ET from PATH

    SEATTLE, Sept. 26 /PRNewswire/ -- Today at the Clinton Global
 Initiative annual conference, PATH announced the introduction of a
 ground-breaking vaccine to eliminate epidemic meningitis in Burkina Faso.
     The meningococcal conjugate vaccine, developed by the Meningitis
 Vaccine Project, a partnership between the World Health Organization and
 PATH and produced by Serum Institute of India Limited has been developed
 for serogroup A Neisseria meningitidis (meningococcus), the principal cause
 of meningitis epidemics in Africa for more than 100 years.
     The Michael & Susan Dell Foundation is committing $4 million to the
 project that will vaccinate more than nine million people between the ages
 of 1 and 29 against meningitis.
     The Meningitis Vaccine Project, a partnership between PATH and WHO,
 will continue to raise the remainder of the $14 million required to conduct
 the initial activities.
     More than 700,000 cases of the disease have been reported in the past
 ten years alone. The disease is virtually unknown in the United States, yet
 causes devastating loss of life and permanent disability in Africa.
     "The introduction of the vaccine in Burkina Faso will set the stage for
 the ultimate elimination of meningitis in sub-Saharan Africa. The support
 from the Dell Foundation and other funders to roll out this life-saving
 vaccine is most welcome," said Dr Marie-Paule Kieny, Director, WHO
 Initiative for Vaccine Research.
     "Now that a meningitis vaccine has been developed, with licensure
 anticipated in late 2008, an end to this devastating but neglected disease
 is within our grasp," said PATH president Christopher J. Elias, MD, MPH.
 "This project is a critical first step to providing evidence that epidemic
 meningitis can be eliminated on a country by country basis."
     "We are committed to supporting international organizations working on
 the ground to save lives, reduce disease, and break the cycle of poverty
 through proven, highly cost-effective interventions with immediate,
 measurable results," said Janet Mountain, executive director, Michael &
 Susan Dell Foundation. "Our cooperation with PATH and WHO, on the
 Meningitis Vaccine Project is another step in an established project that
 holds the promise to eliminate the dreaded meningitis epidemics in Africa."
     The venture will be carried out in three phases, culminating in June
 2009. The first phase will focus on preparing and strengthening the
 existing health care systems in Burkina Faso, while the second phase will
 be the actual mass- vaccination campaign. The third phase will focus on
 evaluation, since the Burkina Faso results will be used to raise an
 additional $400 million for vaccine scale-up in the remaining 20 meningitis
 belt countries. The Meningitis Vaccine Project was originally funded by the
 Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
     PATH ( is an international, nonprofit organization
 that creates sustainable, culturally relevant solutions, enabling
 communities worldwide to break longstanding cycles of poor health.
     Michael & Susan Dell Foundation ( was established
 in 1999 by the Dell family to measurably improve outcomes for children
 living in urban poverty. Based in Austin, Texas, the Foundation funds
 programs that foster and improve education, health, and safety for children
 around the world. With an endowment of more than $1 billion, the Foundation
 has committed more than $350 million to global children's issues and
 Central Texas community initiatives to date.
     WHO (, the United Nations' specialized agency for
 health, was established in 1948. WHO's objective, as set out in its
 Constitution, is the attainment by all peoples of the highest possible
 level of health, defined as a state of complete physical, mental and social
 well- being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.
     The Meningitis Vaccine Project ( is a
 partnership between PATH and the World Health Organization, established to
 develop and introduce meningitis vaccines.
     Contact: PATH, Sue-Lane Wood 206.788.2489,