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Nigeria receives 500,000 doses of Meningitis C vaccine, says WHO

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Nigeria has received 500,000 doses of Meningitis C-containing vaccine to combat the epidemic in the country through the International Coordinating Group (ICG) on Vaccine Provision:PHOTO:AFP

• Sokoto To Immunise 2m People
• Niger Confirms 33 Deaths, 116 Suspected Cases

Nigeria has received 500,000 doses of Meningitis C-containing vaccine to combat the epidemic in the country through the International Coordinating Group (ICG) on Vaccine Provision, an organisation that coordinates the provision of vaccine during outbreak emergencies.

WHO Country Representative to Nigeria, Dr. Wondimagegnehu Alemu, who said this in a statement in Abuja yesterday, added that the vaccines, funded by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, have been administered in Zamfara and Katsina states, where the disease was most endemic.

Meanwhile, the Niger State Government has confirmed that 33 people have died from the Cerebrol Spinal Meningitis (CSM) in the state, while 116 suspected cases has been recorded

The Executive Director of the State Primary Health Care Development Agency (SPCDA), Dr. Yahaya Na’uzo, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) yesterday that nine persons died from the Type C meningitis, while the rest of the 24 died of the Type A and B since the outbreak in the state.

In Sokoto State, the government has disclosed plans to immunise two million people against CSM across the 23 councils.Commissioner for Health, Dr. Balarabe Kakale, told NAN yesterday in Sokoto that the exercise would cover mostly persons between the ages of one and 30 years.

The WHO representative said an additional 820,000 doses of the Meningitis C conjugate vaccine, donated by the United Kingdom Government to it was currently being sent to Nigeria, noting that in the last week, the ICG also sent 341,000 doses of the Meningitis C-containing vaccine to Niger Republic.

He said this was because over 1,300 suspected cases of the disease had been found in the region particularly in districts that border with Nigeria and in the Niamey region of the country.

He stated that a vaccination campaign was underway in Nigeria to contain an outbreak of Meningitis C, a strain of meningitis that first emerged in the country in 2013 and was initially limited to a few areas in Kebbi and Sokoto states.

He recalled that in 2015, over 2,500 cases of the disease were reported across three states, but 4,637 suspected cases and 489 deaths have been reported across five states since the beginning of this year.

He explained that WHO’s Country Office in Nigeria, including a number of field offices, have been supporting the government since the current outbreak began, saying in addition to improving the care of the sick, the organisation was also focusing on ensuring that accurate information about the spread of the outbreak was available as quickly as possible to help it make the most effective use of vaccines.

Alemu noted that the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), with support from WHO, the US Centre for Disease Control (CDC), UNICEF and other partners, were leading the response to the ongoing outbreak and carrying out intensified surveillance, capacity building for case management and risk communication.

He said apart from the use of vaccinations to prevent the transmission of meningitis, 20,000 vials of antibiotics have been sent by the ICG to treat those with the disease in Nigeria, stating that most vaccines currently being used for Meningitis C outbreaks in Africa were polysaccharide vaccines, which were in short supply, as they were being phased out in other parts of the world.

“The more effective and long-lasting conjugate vaccines, however, are not readily accessible for outbreak response in the region. The ICG global emergency stockpile currently has approximately 1.2 million doses of Meningitis C-containing vaccines left.“The very limited supply of vaccines to control outbreaks of Meningitis C can affect our ability to control these epidemics.

“In the long term, the accelerated development of affordable and effective conjugate vaccines to cover all epidemic types of meningitis is a high priority for WHO and partners,” Alemu said.

He noted that in the past, Nigeria had suffered large-scale outbreaks of Meningitis A, recalling that in 2009, such an outbreak in the country caused over 55, 000 cases, with close to 2,500 deaths.

He, however, said preventive mass vaccination campaigns, supported by Gavi and partners, have provided high and long-term protection against the bacteria.
Kakale confirmed that the Sokoto State Government had already received 20,000 doses of the Type C strain of CSM from the Federal Government, out of the initial request of 800,000 doses it made, while expecting more consignments, as it commences the statewide vaccination.He stated that the WHO would train the vaccinators to ensure the exercise was error-free.

Kakale, however, noted that the epidemic had been brought under control across the state, noting that a referral centre had been established by the state government at the Murtala General Hospital, Sokoto and being manned jointly by medical personnel deployed by the state government and Medicines Sans Frontiers (MSF), assuring that the state government has provided adequate drugs at the centre for the free treatment of patients.

Na’uzo said that the disease was currently being contained in Magama, Agwara, Rijau, Kontagora councils of Niger State, while the suspected case in Suleja was a transit patient from Sokoto and that of Paiko was detected yesterday.

He explained that after the first record of death, the state embarked on sensitisation and awareness campaign to communities to educate the people on preventive measures: hence the fewer cases reported per day.

He said vaccination would commence immediately the state receives the Type C meningitis vaccines from WHO, through the Federal Government, and advised the people against self-medication and report any sign of CSM to the hospital and to always leave windows and doors opened to ensure ventilation in their homes, as well as wash their hands to avoid the spread of the disease.He disclosed that health personnel had been deployed to rural areas to help contain the spread.


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