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Working Fast to Cure Meningitis in Niger

21 May 2015

Fatoumata cares for her 10-year-old daughter, Sabira, who, she said, developed meningitis at school. Photo: Sylvain Cherkaoui/Cosmos

Ali cares for his 11-year-old daughter while an MSF doctor watches over her. The child did not recover. "I have taken a picture of her with my phone, so I will have a memory of her," he said. Photo: Sylvain Cherkaoui/Cosmos

Ibrahim, 24, came to MSF with neck pain and fever. He had been turned away from other hospitals before he received treatment from MSF. Photo: Sylvain Cherkaoui/Cosmos

Patients wait their turn to come inside an MSF mobile clinic in Niamey. Due to a lack of vaccines for meningitis globally, teams are focussing on treating patients and must move quickly to diagnose and treat to save more lives. Photo: Sylvain Cherkaoui/Cosmos

A patient clutches a caretaker while a nurse administers the antibiotic injection. Photo: Sylvain Cherkaoui/Cosmos

An MSF doctor carries a child in critical condition. MSF is using five ambulances to bring in severe meningitis cases from health centers around Niamey. Photo: Sylvain Cherkaoui/Cosmos

Abdouraza, 7, rests with his mother after receiving the antibiotic. He contracted meningitis at school before the government began vaccinating children. Patients who arrive at the first onset of symptoms have a 90 percent chance of being cured. Photo: Sylvain Cherkaoui/Cosmos

A meningitis epidemic is sweeping across Niger and has already infected more than 6,500 people and claimed 443 lives, according to health authorities.

The illness is simple to treat but the patient must receive immediate care. Doctors Without Borders (MSF), in collaboration with the Ministry of Health, is providing free medical care for patients

Teams are supporting local health centers in the capital, Niamey, which has been hit hard, to treat simple cases, while referring severe cases to Lazaret hospital, where more than 2,500 patients have been admitted since March 23.