Eliminating Meningitis, Other Diseases through Vaccination

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Rebecca Ejifoma
Vaccines have significantly reduced the threat of diseases like polio, measles, cholera and influenza that were once widespread and sometimes fatal worldwide. Today, more people benefit from safe and efficacious vaccines than ever before – and the list of diseases that vaccines can help prevent continues to grow.
However, as the world marks the 2017 Immunisation Week/World Meningitis Day from April 24th to 28th, Pfizer pharmaceuticals urges Nigerians to be aware of the critical importance of immunisation with vaccination as a key strategy to containing Meningococcal meningitis, ensuring continued protection for the current and future generation while taking into consideration the current outbreak of Meningitis in the region.
Its Medical Director, Kodjo Soroh noted that immunisation was widely recognised as one of the most successful and cost effective health interventions.  “Our goal is to protect lives with innovative vaccines to fight serious diseases worldwide and make vaccination against potentially deadly diseases available.”
Citing the World Health Organisation (WHO), he said that Meningitis disease is an infection of the meninges, the membrane covering the brain. Bacterial meningitis is very serious because its onset is rapid and the infection is associated with a significant risk of death; it may also result in mental retardation, deafness and epilepsy among others.
Several local and international reports show that Meningitis disease is currently threatening the health of Nigerian and other Africans. And Nigeria lies in the “meningitis belt” of sub-Saharan Africa, stretching from Senegal in the west to Ethiopia in the east, where outbreaks of the disease are a regular occurrence.
He explained that several different bacteria can cause meningitis listing Neisseriameningitidis as one with the potential to cause large epidemics. He said there are 12 serogroups of N. meningitidis that have been identified, six of which (A, B, C, W, X and Y) can cause epidemics. Geographic distribution and epidemic potential differ.
The MD affirmed that Meningococcal bacteria are transmitted from person-to-person through droplets from the nose and throat of carriers. “Close and prolonged contact with a carrier of meningitis facilitates the spread of the disease.”
Meanwhile, the Director Corporate Affairs Pfizer, Margaret Olele encouraged individuals, families and communities to learn the signs and symptoms of meningitis, the importance of urgent treatment of the disease and that prevention is available through vaccination against some forms of meningitis.
She, however, assured that Pfizer would continue to deliver on its commitments to colleagues and customers, protecting lives with innovative vaccines to fight serious diseases worldwide.  “We are leveraging leading technology in vaccine design and conjugation in an effort to provide preventative solutions to these complex, difficult-to-treat bacterial pathogens.”