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Niger: support for campaign to vaccinate almost 60,000 people against meningitis

25-11-2011 News Release 11/243

Geneva/Niamey (ICRC) – The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is providing support for a major immunization campaign against meningitis that begins today in the Agadez area of northern Niger.

This part of the Sahel is particularly vulnerable to the disease, which claims many lives each year. The danger of an epidemic outbreak is generally at its highest in the middle of the dry season, which lasts from December to February.

The ICRC is supporting the campaign in the districts of Arlit and Tchirozérine, where over 58,000 people aged one to 29 will be vaccinated by the first week in December. The campaign will cover the six districts of Agadez and other parts of the country.

"People in Arlit and Tchirozérine – widely dispersed desert nomads – have not been reached by regular vaccination campaigns for several years," said Jürg Eglin, head of the ICRC delegation for Niger and Mali. "Because of the security problems in the area, the difficulty of access and the significant logistical resources required for such a campaign, our support for the health authorities has proven to be necessary."

In addition to providing technical support and supervising immunization activities, the ICRC is making available more than 30 vehicles, supplying the petrol they require and paying per diems to the 375 vaccinators and to others involved in the campaign. In the district of Tchirozérine, this support will be of particular benefit to people in remote areas far from health-care centres.

As early as February, the ICRC provided support for a vaccination campaign in the same area that immunized more than 13,000 women and children under five against potentially epidemic diseases such as measles and tetanus. "For several years we have been supporting the public authorities in their efforts to improve access to health care in northern Niger by upgrading health-care centres, enhancing the skills of health-care personnel and distributing medicines and other medical items as needed," said Mr Eglin.

The ICRC is one of the few humanitarian organizations working in northern Niger. It has a field support centre in Agadez attached to its regional delegation in Niamey.

For further information, please contact:
Germain Mwehu, ICRC Niamey, tel: +227 97 45 43 82
Steven Anderson, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 20 11 or +41 79 536 92 50