Bacterial meningitis (*) kills more than 170,000 people each year. Although sporadic cases are detected in developed countries, the vast majority of deaths and suffering happen in Africa. Epidemics regularly hit countries in the area referred to as the African meningitis belt, which stretches across the continent from Senegal to Ethiopia. The total population at risk in the countries affected is around 300 million.
In a recent study, MSF and its research affiliate, Epicentre, showed how rapid, mass vaccinations can reduce the toll inflicted by measles epidemics in Africa. "The fact that the WHO does not promote vaccination campaigns during an epidemic only hinders an effective emergency response," said epidemiologist Rebecca Grais.