Occupation: Director, Meningitis Vaccine Project
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LaForce is director of the Meningitis Vaccine Project, a project funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation that last year began distribution in Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger of the first low-cost vaccine for meningococcal meningitis A, a disease that reaches epidemic proportions across northern Africa's "meningitis belt" every December. The disease kills about 10% of those who contract it some 450 million people are at risk and leaves some 20% of survivors severely disabled. The vaccine, called MenAfriVac, costs just 40 cents a dose. To date, some 19.5 million people have received it.