Niger closed all schools within the metro area of the country’s capital Niamey on Wednesday as the “save the children” meningitis vaccination campaign is set to kick off Friday.
The campaign will be active till Monday next week, with government and NGO organisations administering vaccinations to children aged two to 15 in an effort to halt the spread of the virus which has killed 85 since its re-emergence January.
Government officials concerned about the reemergence of meningitis surrounding the capital released statements regarding the “save the children” campaign.
"A vaccination campaign targeting children will start on Friday April 24," the statement said.
Niger’s Prime Minister Brigi Raffini addressed the nation through a televised address stating that only children could be vaccinated, as only 600 thousand of the 1.2 million necessary vaccinations have been procured.
"For the rest of the needed vaccines, we are appealing to all our partners to come to our aid to supplement the stock of vaccine doses we direly need," Raffini said.
West African nations are fearful that a reemergence of meningitis could have devastating effects in the region, which has only just begun recovering from the Ebola outbreak of last summer which killed 10,717 people.
The region suffered a devastating meningitis outbreak between 2009 and 2010, with Niger, Nigeria, Mali and Burkina Faso reporting a combined total of 25,000 cases of the virus resulting in 1,100 deaths.
Niger successfully halted the spread of the virus in 2010 after working with Doctors Without Borders to administer vaccinations to nearly 400,000 children across the country.
Unicef reported in 2010 that Niger suffered 3,440 cases and 139 deaths at the pinnacle of the outbreak.
The reemergence of Meningococcal meningitis in West africa has increased concerns due to the fatal nature of the bacteria.
If left untreated, Meningococcal meningitis carries a 50 percent chance of fatality as the infection uses nervous system pathways from the spine to induce high fevers, headaches and vomiting.