Within two years, Malaysia will produce the
world’s first halal meningitis vaccination. The $1.06 million USD (3.6
million MYR) research project, jointly run by the Universiti Sains
Malaysia and the Finlay Institute in Cuba, expects to benefit millions
of Muslims who annually troop to Saudi Arabia for the Haj pilgrimage.

memorandum of understanding between the two institutions will be signed
in Cuba on December, Malaysia Higher Education Minister Datuk Mustapa
Mohamed said Thursday at a gathering hosted by USM’s Health Faculty.

Malaysia will shoulder $594,000 USD (2 million MYR), while Cuba will pay for the $475,000 USD (1.6 million MYR) balance.

is the swelling of the membrane covering the brain and spinal cord.
According to the World Health Organization a large number of Muslim
pilgrims, especially from African countries with high levels of
meningococcal diseases, gather every year in Saudi Arabia leading to
high incidents of meningitis during the Haj. In 2000, an all time high
of 304 meningitis cases were reported.

In an effort to contain
meningitis during Haj, Saudi Arabia set up vaccination centers around
the Holy Mosque, Mecca and Medina and at various ports of entry.