With a massive vaccination campaign underway in Burkina Faso, the required funds for obtaining the missing meningitis vaccines are still largely insufficient.
Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), the international medical organisation that is supporting the authorities in the country in containing the epidemic and treating the meningitis cases, is urgently calling up donors to make a further commitment of at least one million euros. This money is needed today for the purchase and transport of some 1.7 million vaccines and ad hoc consumables that are still blocked.
From the 3,350,000 vaccines made available to fight the spread of the disease, half is still blocked because of a lack of funds.
One vaccine costs 0.50 euros per dose and, if they are not shipped in the next days, the impact of a vaccination campaign will be very limited.
"The vaccines are there, the logistics are in place, the vaccination is underway, but the funds are missing," explains Meinie Nicolai, MSF's Operational Director. "The current outbreak in Burkina Faso is beyond compare to what we have seen in previous years. Yet, in spite of the dramatic situation and in spite of the mobilisation by the Ministry of Health (MoH) and humanitarian organisations, donors are not coming forward to further support this huge and lifesaving effort. The donors are unacceptably slow to commit enough."
The meningitis epidemic that started in Burkina Faso at the end of February counts, as of today, some 10,796 reported cases and has killed 801 people, according to the MoH authorities.
In support of the massive vaccination campaign done by the authorities, MSF has already vaccinated some 500,000 people and treated almost 400 cases in the capital city, Ouagadougou. The international medical organisation is preparing to increase its intervention in the country and to do more vaccinations to prevent a wider spread of the disease.
Meningitis is a highly contagious disease that kills up to half of the people infected if they do not receive treatment in time. Even when treated early, serious neurological complications occur in up to 20 per cent of the cases. Meningitis is an infection of the membrane that covers the brain and spinal cord like a sheath.