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Lancet. 2000 Jan 1;355(9197):3.

Emergency or routine vaccination against meningococcal disease in Africa?

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Helsinki University Central Hospital, Hospital for Children and Adolescents, Finland.



The spread of meningococcal disease in sub-Saharan Africa, which extends from Senegal to Ethiopia, has already affected thousands of people in the region and is urgently in need of an intervention. The meningococcal epidemic in Africa is usually caused by serogroup A and sweeps over the region within several weeks; it then disappears and reappears 5-10 years later. Although vaccination against serogroup A and C meningococci may have its limitations, it is still capable of eliminating the disease. In Ghana, the Ministry of Health launched a vaccination campaign which covered 72% of the population and prevented 23% of cases and 18% of deaths. A simple method of identifying an impending epidemic followed by the development of various vaccination strategies is necessary among less developed countries. WHO recommends that emergency vaccination be implemented, while continuous and improved surveillance systems must be used to confront the epidemic. In conclusion, this paper suggests that the meningococcal disease in sub-Saharan Africa would be better dealt with by well organized campaigns rather than by repeated vaccinations of the entire population.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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