Nigeria has become the first country to introduce the Men5CV vaccine in the fight against meningitis.

Key highlights:

  • This vaccine, endorsed by the World Health Organization (WHO), provides protection against five strains of meningococcus bacteria with a single injection.
  • Bacterial meningitis, specifically caused by the meningococcus bacteria, is a particular concern in Africa. A region of 26 countries known as the “African meningitis belt” stretches across the continent, including Nigeria.Nigeria faced an outbreak of meningitis between October 2023 and March 2024, resulting in numerous suspected and confirmed cases, with fatalities reported across several states. 
  • The number of reported meningitis cases in Africa surged by 50% last year, underlining the urgency of addressing this public health challenge. 
  • Nigeria’s proactive approach in introducing the Men5CV vaccine aligns with the WHO’s objective of eradicating meningitis by 2030.
  • The rollout and accessibility of the Men5CV vaccine are facilitated by funding from Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, ensuring that this life-saving intervention reaches a wider population.

Men5CV Vaccine’s Comprehensive Protection: 

  • Unlike earlier vaccines that targeted only one or two strains, Men5CV offers protection against multiple mening ococcus strains, including A, C, W, Y, and X, all of which can cause meningitis and blood poisoning. It is essential for regions like the meningitis belt where these various strains circulate.

About Meningitis

  • Meningitis is an inflammation of the meninges, the protective membranes that surround  brain and spinal cord. These membranes act as a cushion and barrier, safeguarding the nervous system from injury and infection.

Types of Meningitis:

  • Viral Meningitis: The most common cause of meningitis. These viral infections are usually less severe than bacterial meningitis.
  • Bacterial Meningitis: Bacterial meningitis is a medical emergency and requires immediate attention. It can be life-threatening within 24 hours.
  • Fungal Meningitis: Fungal meningitis is rare but can be serious, especially for people with weakened immune systems.
  • Parasitic Meningitis : Parasitic meningitis is uncommon but can occur. Specific treatment depends on the parasite.
  • Cancer-induced Meningitis: In rare cases, cancer can spread to the meninges and cause inflammation.
  • Drug-induced Meningitis: Certain medications can cause an inflammatory response in the meninges.


  • Viral and bacterial meningitis can be spread through close contact with infected respiratory or throat secretions, such as coughing, sneezing, kissing, or sharing utensils.
  • Fungal and parasitic meningitis are not usually contagious.


Classic triad:

  • Neck stiffness: Difficulty bending the chin to the chest due to inflammation.
  • Fever: Usually high fever, often with a sudden onset.
  • Headache: Severe headache that may worsen with movement.
  • Other possible symptoms may include Nausea and vomiting, Confusion or altered mental state, Seizures, Coma and Neurological deficits (hearing loss, vision problems, weakness)

Treatment and Prevention:

  • Treatment depends on the cause of meningitis.
  • Bacterial Meningitis: Requires immediate antibiotic treatment. Early diagnosis and treatment are crucial for preventing serious complications.
  • Viral Meningitis: Treatment usually focuses on supportive care to manage symptoms, such as pain relievers and fluids. Most people recover fully without complications.


  • Vaccines are available for some types of bacterial meningitis. 
  • Practicing good hygiene, like frequent handwashing, can help prevent the spread of meningitis-causing viruses and bacteria. 
  • Close contacts of individuals with bacterial meningitis may be prescribed antibiotics to prevent infection.

WHO’s Global Roadmap to Defeat Meningitis by 2030

  • The Global Roadmap to Defeat Meningitis by 2030 aims to prevent infections and enhance care and diagnosis.

Key Goals:

  • Eliminate bacterial meningitis epidemics, reduce deaths by 70%, and halve the number of cases.
  • Expected to save over 200,000 lives annually and reduce disability from the disease significantly.


  • Achieve high immunisation coverage, develop affordable vaccines, and enhance prevention strategies.
  • Ensure prompt diagnosis and optimal treatment for patients.
  • Establish robust data systems to guide prevention and control efforts.
  • Provide comprehensive care and support for affected individuals, including early recognition and improved access to post-care services.
  • Advocate for awareness, national plans’ accountability, and affirming the right to prevention, care, and after-care services.

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