Meningitis has killed a lot of people, most of them in Africa in what is referred to as “the meningitis belt”. Every couple of years a meningitis outbreak flares up and ravages many countries, but not this year. This year meningitis was beaten by a cadre of countries and organizations. Many lives will be saved thanks to their efforts.
The last big outbreak was in 1996-1997. 250,000 people were infected and some 25,000 people died. Even in off years, there are low level meningitis outbreaks. Last year, 1,300 people died from the disease in Africa.
But this year, there will be no meningitis season at all.
It did not make front page headlines, but last monthÂ it was announcedÂ that cases of meningitis dropped to effectively zero in 2014 across the meningitis belt.
The disease has been effectively wiped out through a combination of technological innovation, political will, and an unusual collaboration between the pharmaceutical industry, NGOs and governments.