Five weeks from now the global health community will be celebrating another big and important milestone: a new vaccine against meningococcal A meningitis – MenAfriVac – will be distributed in three of the hyper-endemic countries of what is known of as the Meningitis Belt in Africa.

What is particularly notable about this achievement is not just that a new vaccine against a major child killer but that 10 years ago this vaccine did not exist, and it seemed quite unlikely that such a product would ever exist but thanks to a remarkable partnership, not only does this product exist but that it has been made affordable enough for widespread distribution.

When I was an undergraduate student in immunology at McGill, I remember a lecture from one of our professors on meningococcal A meningitis.  Just a few years prior there had been a major epidemic of the disease throughout the meningitis belt and there had been a major epidemic wherein 5,000 people died and more than 250,000 had been sickened by the disease.

The kind of vaccine that is required to produce a good immune response in those most vulnerable to this disease – a conjugate vaccine – requires relatively sophisticated technology to produce and since this strain of the bacteria really only causes significant illness in the developing world the prospect of a new vaccine were not promising.

The following case study on the PATH website presents an interesting example of how a public-private partnership for new product development can be successful.  I encourage you all to have a look.  Celebrating these great milestones is what makes me so love what I do for a living.

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5 Responses to “MenAfriVac™: A case study of when things work well in global health”

  1. Gwenyth says:

    MenAfriVac™: A case study of when things work well in global health: Five weeks from now the global health commu…

  2. Stacyann Forrester says:

    Me too Karen. Thanks for putting this on our radar.

  3. Meredith says:

    Thanks for sharing this. If this vaccine is similar to the MCV4 vaccine, the good news is that it is likely to also be effective for those who are HIV+ as long as their CD4 counts aren't too low. At least, we've found that HIV+ pediatric patients responded well to MCV4, including serogroup A.

  4. Great post on @KarenGrepin blog: #MenFriVac (example when things work well in #globalhealth)

  5. […] A case study of when things work well in global health. Karen Grepin highlights the pending launch of a new vaccine against meningococcal A meningitis in three West African countries. It’s kind of a big deal. Sounds like there was no vaccine a decade ago, and now there’s a vaccine cheap enough for distribution, along with a plan for distribution. All thanks to a nifty public-private partnership. PATH describes the effort in a case study here. […]

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