A five-year, $10 million grant from the Gates Foundation will support a project in which the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases and its partners – the World Health Organization Regional Office for Africa, the Agence de Medecine Preventive, national ministries of health, and various nongovernmental agencies – work to ensure the availability of case-based meningitis-surveillance data from the African meningitis belt. The grant will be used to establish a regional surveillance network to evaluate the effects of MenAfriVac — a meningococcal vaccine that will be used to immunize three hundred million people in the region by 2015 — guide research on the vaccine's long-term effectiveness, and inform decision-making with respect to future vaccines and vaccine efforts.
A second grant, of $1.9 million, will support the Rotavirus Intussusception Study in South Africa, an effort to monitor intussusceptions — a type of bowel blockage in infants — at pediatric hospitals in seven cities in South Africa. And a third grant, of $1.1 million, will support CDC's Leveraging Global Rotavirus Networks program, which aims to evaluate novel molecular diagnostic tools that enable the detection of multiple enteric pathogens and permit identification of common rotavirus strains.
"Meningococcal meningitis and rotavirus gastroenteritis are deadly diseases but are increasingly preventable now that immunization initiatives in the African meningitis belt and other resource-poor areas are reaching the most vulnerable populations," said NCIRD director Dr. Anne Schuchat. "The Gates Foundation funding will allow CDC to work together with countries and international partners to assure that a strong science base is available to sustain prevention efforts. Policy makers need this type of information to justify their own investments in life-saving vaccine programs."