Meningitis "under control"

Ethiopia's health ministry says the meningitis epidemic currently affecting parts of the country has not spun out of control, the Ethiopian News Agency (ENA) reported.

Dr Solomon Worku, a senior expert on diseases within the ministry, said there were enough stocks of medicine to control the outbreak. "The ministry is poised to react promptly to any reports of an outbreak," he was quoted as saying.

"There has not been a single pocket in the country where the disease has gone out of control," he added. "Had the [regional] states reported meningitis cases to the ministry on time, the outbreak could have been brought under control much earlier."

According to the latest figures issued by the ministry, 2,396 meningitis cases have been reported over the last six months, with 121 deaths.

Solomon said vaccination campaigns were underway in all the affected areas. Among the worst-affected is the Southern Nations and Nationalities state where some 2,022 cases have been reported, with 89 related deaths.

The disease claimed a further three lives in the Jor district of the southwestern Gambella state this week, Ethiopian officials said. People are reportedly flocking to the nearby Gog district for treatment as there are no health facilities in Jor.

The Ethiopian government has appealed for US $2.5 million to tackle the disease, and Solomon noted that international organisations had donated over US $1.2 million.