D.R. Congo Declares End of Meningitis Outbreak in Northeastern Region

Young woman holding an infant, with a child standing next to her. Female health worker is sitting in a chair preparing a vaccine in front of her. Launch of MenAfriVac

Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has declared an end of a meningitis outbreak in the territory of Banalia, in northeastern Tshopo province.

According to Health Minister Jean-Jacques Mbungani, since early September of 2021, the meningitis outbreak has killed 205 out of a total of 2,662 notified cases.

“Considering that there has been no contamination for several weeks and the infection rate has fallen below the alert threshold for two consecutive weeks, I am happy to declare the end of the outbreak of meningitis in the Banalia health zone in the Tshopo Province,” he said.

Meningitis outbreaks occurred in several DR Congo provinces in the past. In 2009, an outbreak in Kisangani infected 214 people and caused 15 deaths, a case fatality ratio of 8 percent.

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More than 1.6 million people aged between 1 and 29 years were vaccinated in a massive campaign in 2016 in Tshopo, which lies in the so-called “African meningitis belt” that runs across the continent from Senegal to Ethiopia and comprises 26 countries.

In November 2020, the World Health Assembly approved a roadmap for a meningitis-free world by 2030, with three key objectives: elimination of bacterial meningitis, reduction of vaccine-preventable bacterial meningitis by 50 percent and deaths by 70 percent, as well as reduction of disability and improvement of quality of life after meningitis.

Meningitis is transmitted among people through droplets of respiratory or throat secretions from infected people. Close and prolonged contact or living in close quarters with an infected person facilitates the spread of the disease. Although people of all ages can catch the disease, it mainly affects children and young people.

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