UN and partners seek 10 million euros to combat meningitis in Africa

Warning of a possible imminent outbreak of meningitis in Africa, the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) and partner agencies today appealed for 10 million euros to combat a deadly strain of the disease.Unless new funds are urgently provided, the medical supplies needed to prevent deaths and control the epidemic will not be available to treat cases which could emerge in as little as two months, WHO warned.WHO, joined by the International Federation of the Red Cross, Médecins Sans Frontières and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), said thousands of people will certainly die unnecessarily unless the 10 million euros are furnished to rebuild a stockpile of vaccine and drugs. A killer disease which has its greatest impact on children, meningitis is characterized by fever, nausea and headache which can progress rapidly to cause serious neurological damage, coma and death. Without treatment, half of those infected will die, according to WHO, while those who survive can be left with serious mental damage or deafness.An emergency meeting between representatives of potential donor countries and States in Africa’s “meningitis belt,” which stretches from Ethiopia in the east to Senegal in the west, will be held Thursday in Geneva.

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