Thousands of children at risk as meningitis epidemic rapidly spreads through Togo

by Amy Woodyatt | Plan UK
Thursday, 10 March 2016 15:46 GMT

* Any views expressed in this article are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters Foundation.

A meningitis epidemic continues to spread through Togo, with children being most at risk from the disease.

 

Four regions out of six in the country are now affected with a total of 2.5 million people at risk. Children are dying every day from this epidemic.  The numbers of cases and subsequent deaths have more than quadrupled within the last month. Several districts of neighbouring Ghana have also been placed under epidemic and alert phases

 

It is children who are most at risk of meningitis. Alarmingly, 65% of all meningitis cases in the area are affecting children under the age of 15.

 

Plan International is responding to the outbreak in Togo. As of March 2016, ten districts are in epidemic phase, with five more on alert.

 

The epidemic is spreading rapidly, with new cases reported every week in Togo.

 

Meningitis often has long term health implications for those who survive the disease.

Survivors commonly suffer from sight, hearing, speech or mobility impairment.

Around 60% of meningitis cases in Togo are children, meaning that a large number of children are at risk of remaining disabled for life.

 

Meningitis is a highly contagious, deadly disease and is treatable given enough time.

 

Plan International has launched an emergency health response to this epidemic, and is working with local health authorities to prevent, diagnose and treat meningitis. Plan International is supporting the Government of Togo with a mass vaccination campaign. Over 25000 people in the most vulnerable districts will be vaccinated. 

 

Plan is also working with communities and public health authorities to run awareness projects to educate people on the causes, symptoms and treatment of meningitis.

 

The Country Director for Plan Togo, Mohamed Bah says: “It is imperative that we work to stop the spread of meningitis where we can, catching cases early and educating communities on preventative measures to avoid this epidemic from spreading further.

 

“This epidemic is disproportionately affecting young children, and the high fatality rate of this is alarming.

 

“Plan urgently requires funding to coordinate efforts to stop the further spread of meningitis.”

 

For more information on Plan’s work or to make a donation call 0800 526 848 or visit www.plan-uk.org