Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Vaccine grant to protect millions from yellow fever

Bill and Melinda Gates strike again...

GENEVA (Reuters) - More than 48 million people in West Africa will be immunized for yellow fever over the next four years under a new vaccine programme announced on Wednesday by the public-private GAVI Alliance.

Mass vaccination campaigns from the 1940s to the 1960s nearly wiped out yellow fever in Africa, but a drop-off in immunizations caused a resurgence in the hemorrhagic disease that health experts fear could trigger epidemics in urban areas.

Yellow fever, whose symptoms can include fever, vomiting and bleeding from the mouth, nose and eyes, infects some 200,000 people a year, killing around 30,000, mostly in Africa.

The $58 million grant from the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI) will support vaccinations against the viral disease spread by mosquitoes in the world's most-affected countries: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cote d'Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo.

It will also create a stockpile of 11 million doses of the vaccine to prevent outbreaks and manage epidemics, according to the Swiss-based GAVI, whose partners include governments, drugmakers, the World Health Organization, the World Bank and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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