Meningitis threatens 450 million in Africa

World Meningitis Day

Meningitis

In sub-Saharan Africa, thousands die in years with large outbreaks of meningitis, but vaccines can help eliminate these epidemics.

World Meningitis Day is April 24th. This is an opportunity to both raise awareness about the dangers of meningitis and build on progress that has been made against this dangerous threat.

Bacterial meningococcal meningitis threatens the lives of 450 million people across 26 countries in Africa’s meningitis belt. While effective vaccination programs have reduced the burden of some types of meningococcal meningitis, others continue to cause disease and epidemics in this region. Treatment is costly for both families and nations and contributes to the cycle of poverty. Each case of meningitis in a family results in a sudden cost of about 3 or 4 months of the family’s income. The permanent disabilities caused by meningitis leave survivors less able to care for themselves and less likely to earn income.

What Is Meningitis?

Meningitis is an infection of the lining of the brain and spinal cord. Bacterial meningitis, like meningococcal meningitis, can be deadly and requires immediate medical attention. Vaccines are available to help protect against some kinds of bacterial meningitis.

Page last reviewed: April 28, 2021
Content source: Global Health