Cheap Vaccine Sought for Africa
New York Times; A9
Dr. David Heymann, head of communicable diseases at the World Health Organization (WHO), emphasized on Thursday the urgency of getting cheaper, safe, and effective vaccines to the people living in the "meningitis belt" of Africa. A new strain of meningitis, W135, threatens millions of lives from Senegal to Ethiopia; already this year Burkina Faso has recorded 12,000 cases of meningitis, with 1,500 deaths. While a vaccine that offers protection against four strains of meningitis, including W135, costs about $5 in the Middle East and as much as $50 a dose in the United States, activists are calling on drug makers to produce a version at about $1 per dose. The WHO, private and government agencies, and vaccine manufacturers Aventis, Chiron, and GlaxoSmithKline will meet in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, next week to discuss the issues of high vaccine prices and fears of emerging epidemics.