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 (http://www.path.org) 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 (http://www.msdf.org) 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 (http://www.who.int), 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 (http://www.meningvax.org) 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, firstname.lastname@example.org