This is the VOA Special English Development Report.
Health experts from Africa andinternational aid agencies have agreed on a plan to fight a new,deadly form of meningitis in Africa. The plan was approved during arecent meeting in Ouagadougo, the capital of Burkina Faso. This WestAfrican country is the first nation in Africa to be affected by thenew kind of meningitis, called W-one-hundred-thirty-five. So far,almost one-thousand-five-hundred people have died from the new formof meningitis.
The World Health Organization warns that many more could die inthe coming months. The disease is most widespread in Africa fromNovember through May.
Meningitis is caused by a bacterium. The disease affects thebrain. About fifty percent of all patients die if the disease is nottreated. The disease spreads through a part of Africa that extendsfrom the West African coast to the eastern part of Somalia.
W-H-O officials say the best way to save lives is to provideeveryone in an infected area with vaccine medicine to prevent thedisease. However, they say they do not have enough of the currentvaccine to treat meningitis W-one-hundred-thirty-five.
In addition, they say the cost of a single injection is too high-- as much as fifty dollars. Because of the cost, the W-H-O says aidagencies will not be able to carry out mass vaccination campaigns inAfrica. There is already a less costly vaccine for the more common Aand C forms of meningitis.
Ian Simpson is a spokesperson for the World Health Organization.He says that the experts who met in Ouagadougo agreed to a two-stepplan to fight the spread of this new form of meningitis. First, theywill continue working with drug manufacturers to produce a lesscostly vaccine. The second part of the plan is to collect enoughmedicine and equipment to treat people who become infected.
Mister Simpson called for a careful examination of patients athealth centers and hospitals to help discover meningitis casesearly. This way, people can receive treatment immediately. Inaddition, area laboratories that identify meningitis will serve asan early warning system.
Mister Simpson also said that more testing of new medicaltreatments for meningitis patients is needed. He also called forimproved efforts to quickly transport medicines to areas where theyare needed.
This VOA Special English Development Report was written by JillMoss.
Adapted from a VOA report by Lisa Schlein