DR MARIE-PIERRE PRÉZIOSI
ON BEHALF OF THE MENINGITIS VACCINE PROJECT (MVP) AND PARTNERS: MVP IS A PARTNERSHIP BETWEEN PATH AND THE WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION (WHO)
ELIMINATION OF MENINGITIS A EPIDEMICS IN AFRICA; MENAFRIVAC FUTURE PLANS
Marie-Pierre Préziosi was appointed in March 2012 as the new director of the Meningitis Vaccine Project (MVP), a partnership between the World Health Organization (WHO) and PATH, established in 2001 through a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, with the mission to eliminate epidemic meningitis as a public health problem in sub-Saharan Africa through the development, testing, introduction, and widespread use of conjugate meningococcal vaccines.
Recurrent meningococcal epidemics have been a major plague for over a century in the African meningitis belt where outbreaks occur annually with large epidemics striking at intervals ranging between 8 and 12 years. The Meningitis Vaccine Project (MVP) is a partnership between the World Health Organization and PATH, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. It was established in 2001 with the mission to eliminate epidemic meningitis as a public health problem in sub-Saharan Africa through the development, testing, licensure, introduction, and widespread use of affordable meningococcal conjugate vaccines.
Following international standards, an affordable MenA conjugate vaccine, MenAfriVac (Serum Institute of India, Ltd), was successfully developed and licensed through an innovative public private partnership. The vaccine was launched at public health scale in December 2010 and has already been introduced into ten African countries through single dose mass campaigns (Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Ghana, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal and Sudan) reaching to date over 112 million persons aged 1- to 29-years, with early results suggesting a major impact on MenA transmission and disease.
The last three epidemic seasons (2011, 2012 and 2013) were characterised by a dramatic fall in cases of group A meningococcal disease in vaccinated countries. The high vaccine coverage achieved augurs well for further rollout of the vaccine in Nigeria and in the additional sixteen countries that constitute the African meningitis belt (Burundi, Central Africa, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Kenya, Mauritania, Rwanda, South Sudan, The Gambia, Tanzania, Togo and Uganda). Continuing surveillance for cases of meningitis and monitoring of vaccination coverage and safety will be crucial to confirm the effects of the vaccine as it is being introduced across the entire belt. Protecting new birth cohorts through routine vaccination after completion of the mass campaigns, is crucial to sustaining the full impact of MenAfriVac and achieving the overall public health goal. Research from recent and ongoing studies suggest that this could be best achieved through follow-up campaigns and immunisation starting in late infancy.
The presentation will cover the MVP project latest operations and research, including successes to date in implementing the Men A vaccine, key research results and future priorities.