West and Central Africa: Meningitis DREF Operation No. MDR61001 Final Report

The International Federation's Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) is a source of un-earmarked money created by the Federation in 1985 to ensure that immediate financial support is available for Red Cross Red Crescent response to emergencies. The DREF is a vital part of the International Federation's disaster response system and increases the ability of national societies to respond to disasters.

Summary: CHF 200,000 was allocated from the Federation's DREF on 7 March, 2007 to respond to the needs of the population affected by the Meningitis outbreak in various parts of the West and Central Africa Region.

An increased number of meningitis cases were registered in several countries since January 2007. The outbreaks caused a total of nearly 31,000 cases and over 2,300 deaths between January and early May with the majority of over 25,000 cases and nearly 1,700 deaths in Burkina Faso. At the end of the emergency operation, the outbreaks had clearly passed the peak period in all countries and were down to only small numbers of cases per week.

Red Cross volunteers mobilized communities, helped identify affected persons and sensitized populations on the prevention of new infections. This action contributed to stopping the progression of the epidemic. However, more needs to be done to prevent similar outbreaks and efforts need to be oriented towards preparedness and prevention.

Background and Summary

Yearly outbreaks of meningitis are registered along the meningitis belt in Africa, which stretches across the continent - from Senegal in the West to Ethiopia in the East - and includes all or part of 15 to 18 countries, majority being in West and Central Africa. The outbreaks mainly occur throughout the dry season (between January and May).

Since January 2007, an increased number of meningitis cases were registered in the West and Central African Region. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), several countries in the region were affected. The latest available reliable regional data in week six showed a total of over 3,200 cases and over 400 deaths throughout the region. The most affected countries included Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Mali, Niger, Nigeria and Chad. Some of these countries had already surpassed the alert (five) and epidemic (one) thresholds in some of their districts.

In order to respond to the situation, the Red Cross launched a regional appeal for the eight most affected countries (Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Mali, Niger, Nigeria and Chad) that was funded by the Federation's Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF).

How we work

All International Federation assistance seeks to adhere to the Code of Conduct for the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO's) in Disaster Relief and is committed to the Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Disaster Response (Sphere) in delivering assistance to the most vulnerable.

The International Federation's activities are aligned with its Global Agenda, which sets out four broad goals to meet the Federation's mission to "improve the lives of vulnerable people by mobilizing the power of humanity".

Global Agenda Goals:

- Reduce the numbers of deaths, injuries and impact from disasters.

- Reduce the number of deaths, illnesses and impact from diseases and public health emergencies.

- Increase local community, civil society and Red Cross Red Crescent capacity to address the most urgent situations of vulnerability.

- Reduce intolerance, discrimination and social exclusion and promote respect for diversity and human dignity.

For further information specifically related to this operation please contact:

In Senegal: Alasan Senghore, Federation Head of West and Central Africa Regional Delegation, Dakar; Email: alasan.senghore@ifrc.org; Phone +221.869.36.41; Fax +221. 860.20.02.