Meningitis has killed more than 2 500 people this year in West and Central Africa in what could become the worst epidemic for five years, UNICEF said. Meningitis is an infection of the thin lining that surrounds the brain and spinal cord. Infection rates in Africa rise during the dry and hot period from January to May and the meningitis belt stretching from Senegal to Ethiopia is especially prone. UNICEF said in a statement that in the year to April 5, 2 519 people had died of meningitis in Nigeria, Niger, Burkina Faso and Chad, out of a total of 47 310 cases.
Three new vaccines will be introduced into governments expanded programme on immunisation (EPI) at a cost of R1.1 billion, government spokesman Themba Maseko said on Thursday.
Invasive bacterial infections are a significant cause of childhood illness and death worldwide. But clinical officers and doctors in African hospitals have few resources to diagnose and treat seriously ill children. Research in Kenya shows that simple rules based on current World Health Organisation guidelines effectively target antibiotic treatment.
Treatment for a common AIDS-related infection, crypotococcal meningitis, is still out of reach and too expensive in many countries, say doctors from South Africa and Londons St Georges Hospital in a letter published in the September edition of Lancet Infectious Diseases.
A pioneering vaccination programme for children has virtually wiped out a killer bug in the Gambia - and could save hundreds of thousands of young lives across Africa.
Pfizer is expected to announce on December 1, World AIDS Day, that it will donate $50 million worth of its antifungal drug Diflucan, which is used by many AIDS patients, to South Africa over two years.