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Nigeriens getting vaccinated against Meningitis as epidemic death toll climbs

Joel Honore Kouam   -  
Copyright © africanews


While the current meningitis epidemic in Niger has caused the death of more than 143 people, the vast vaccination campaign launched in Niamey, the country's capital, by the World Health Organization (WHO) hopes to reverse the contagion curve.

Africanews correspondent Joel Honore Kouam reports that Nigeriens are impatiently awaiting the return of the rainy season which they believe can help to stem the tide as Meningitis — an infection of the thin lining surrounding the brain and spinal cord — is seasonal. 

The disease is prevalent in the Sahel (a semi-arid region stretching through Mali, Niger, Chad, and Sudan), mostly in the dry season from November to May which comes with dust, winds, and cold nights.

**"It has to be said that hundreds of them (Nigeriens) are turning up at each community vaccination center to receive their dose.**As such, many expect the campaign to be extended to the whole country in the coming days” Kouam said.

The WHO vaccination is designated for people aged between 1 to 19. Niger's capital, Niamey has recorded the highest number of cases so far this year with a cumulative incidence proportion of 52.2 cases per 100,000 inhabitants.

"Given the epidemic threshold was reached in three health districts, the Ministry of Public Health and Social Affairs filed a request to the International Coordinating Group (ICG) on Vaccine Provision to ask for operational support. To respond to the epidemic, a vaccination campaign will be conducted in all five health districts of the region " says Sahabi Assoumane a public health official in the city.

The desert towns of Agadez and Dosso are the most affected after Niamey.

A Meningitis outbreak in the Sahel between 1996-1997 killed about 25,000 people out of over 250, 000 recorded cases according to the WHO.

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