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BITA FOUDA ANDRE AARSENE, Speaker at Vaccines Conferences
WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION AFRICAN REGION, Congo, the Democratic Republic of the
Title : Meningitis Epidemics in sub-Saharan African meningitis belt from 2011 to 2023


Background: Bacterial meningitis epidemics remain a major public health challenge in sub-Sharan African meningitis The objective of this study is to describe the bacterial meningitis epidemics and response reported in sub-Saharan African meningitis belt from 2011 to 2023.

Methods: A retrospective analytic cross-sectional study was conducted. Cases, incidence, deaths, case fatality rates, pathogens, reactive vaccination, occurrence of bacterial meningitis epidemics were variables considered.

Results: The meningitis A conjugate vaccine rollout in countries of the African sub-Saharan meningitis belt since 2010 resulted in a significant reduction in the occurrence of meningitis epidemics, incidence of Neisseria meningitidis A cases and a change in the bacterial profile of meningitis, with a predominance of Neisseria meningitidis serogroups C, W, X. and Streptococcus pneumoniae.  From 2011 to 2023 12 countries of sub-Saharan African meningitis belt experienced bacterial meningitis epidemics (Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroun, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria, Niger, Senegal, South Sudan, Togo). The number od health districts that reported epidemics varies of years. In 2017, the highest number of health districts reported epidemics (45) as follows: Nigeria (37), Niger (4), Benin (2), Togo (2), and Cameroon (1). The predominant pathogens were N. meningitidis C, W. Nigeria and Niger are the countries that reported mostly meningitis epidemics caused mainly by N. meningitidis C. Nigeria reported meningitis epidemics during 9 out of 13 years from 2013 to 2023 accepted in 2022. Whereas Niger experienced meningitis epidemics for 8 years out of 13. Ghana reported meningitis epidemics caused by S. pneumo in 2016 and 2020 while Togo experiences it in 2023. Mixed epidemics were reported by Niger in 2018 (N. meningitidis C, X) and Ghana in 2016 and 2020 (S. pneumo and N. meningitidis W) and (S. pneumo and N. meningitidis X) respectively. Strains most circulating in meningitis belt are N. meningitidis C (ST-102017), N. meningitidis W (ST C11), and S. pneumo serotypes.

Conclusion: Despite tremendous efforts made resulted to the elimination of meningitis A meningitis epidemics remain a burden. Meningococcal multivalent conjugate ACXWY rollout in sub-Saharan African meningitis belt might contribute to eliminate bacterial meningitis.


Prof Andre Arsene Bita Fouda is WHO Regional meningitis control officer, in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo. In this role, Prof Bita’s responsibilities include: providing technical support and guidance to African Countries on Meningococcal vaccines for prevention and reactive vaccination mass campaigns and introduction into routine immunization; monitoring progress on introduction of Meningococcal vaccines in the African meningitis belt countries; providing technical support and guidance to African countries on surveillance, data management and care of patents with sequelae, case management, preparation and response to meningitis epidemics; and developing regional guidelines on meningitis control in line with the roadmap to Defeat Meningitis by 20230. With regards to Maternal and neonatal tetanus elimination, Prof Bita is acting as regional officer providing guidance and technical assistance to African countries for interventions to reduce the burden of this disease and assess the status of its elimination. As associate Professor in University of Douala, Cameroon he’s providing lecture in Epidemiology, health system and health programmes and projects. Prior to this, he was a WHO Consultant on the Meningitis Vaccine Project (MVP) 2014-2017; Regional meningitis control officer (2018-2021). Prof Bita has authored and co-authored 82 publications in 21 peer review journals and five guidelines: Immunization, surveillance and response to outbreaks (meningitis, measles, cholera, COVID-19); HIV/AIDS; health economics; occupational Medicine.