The Guardian
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Govt moves to avert possible measles, meningitis epidemics



FOR routine immunisation  and to prevent possible outbreaks of measles and meningitis in Nigeria,  the Federal Government has procured more vaccines (RI) that will last till early 2016.

  Nigeria has also improved RI coverage from 57 per cent in 2011 to 92 per cent in 2015 that is 61.4 per cent improvement even as the country last week, for the first time, marked seven months without any case of the Wild Polio Virus (WPV).

  Executive Director National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr. Ado Gana Muhammad, yesterday in an interview with The Guardian, said vaccines shortages and increase in polio cases experienced during the 2007 and 2011 elections will not happen this year.

  Muhammad said: “To ensure and guarantee vaccine availability we have procured vaccines that will last till early third quarter of 2015. We have also made adequate arrangement to procure more vaccines and injection materials that will last till 2016.

  “In the last two years we have made progress in RI. As at today we have taken RI against all childhood killer diseases to 92 per cent compared to 57 per cent in 2011. This is because in the last two years we have made adequate vaccines available and the demand for vaccines has increased. We have engaged the private sector, which provides about 60 per cent of all health services in the country including immunization. So we are taking advantage of that.” 

  The NPHCDA boss said the country has not recorded any major outbreak of meningitis since 2012 because of the introduction of MenAfriVac vaccine in December 2011.

  Nigeria in 2011 with support from the Global Alliance for Vaccine Initiative (GAVI) introduced MenAfriVac vaccine with the promise to prevent more than 150,000 deaths by 2015 as well as avoid significant disability and have considerable economic benefits.

  Nigeria belongs to the ‘meningitis belt’ stretching from Senegal to Ethiopia. The “meningitis belt” is a region of 25 sub-Saharan countries, with a total population of about 500 million people.

  Initial surveillance data from Burkina Faso, one of the first countries to receive the vaccine suggests that it is highly effective in preventing the region’s regular and deadly epidemics of meningitis A.

  Past studies show that the peak infection period for meningitis and measles is the dry season which is between November and March. It has been shown that the hot, dusty wind brings disease and social disruption.

  Muhammad said: “In December 2011 we introduced MenAfricVac. It tackles and prevents outbreaks. Since 2012 we have not had any major outbreak of Meningitis A. In 2011 we immunized 7.4 million eligible Nigerians, in 2012 we vaccinated another 7.5 million and in 2013 yet another 7.8 million. Because of this, no major outbreak of meningitis has been experienced. 

  “The vaccination offers minimum of 10 years protection to maximum of life long protection. As far as one receives the shot, he or she could be protected for life.”

  Nigeria recorded the worst epidemic of meningitis in 1996 with about 12,000 deaths.   

  According to a study published in Transactions of Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, “a particularly severe epidemic of meningococcal meningitis (cerebrospinal meningitis, CSM) occurred in Nigeria between January and June 1996. There were 109,580 recorded cases and 11,717 deaths, giving a case fatality rate of 10.7 per cent overall. This is the most serious epidemic of CSM ever recorded in Nigeria, and may be the largest in Africa this century.”

  On measles, Muhammad said: “We don’t have outbreak of measles in Nigeria. In 2013 we had integrated measles campaign. We are planning to carry out another campaign between July and August this year. 

  “To prevent what is happening in Europe as regards to outbreaks, we are also strengthening RI as well as surveillance systems.”

  According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), “seven countries in Europe and Asia have reported 22 567 cases of measles in 2014 and thus far in 2015. This threatens the region’s goal of eliminating the disease by the end of this year. Even though measles cases fell by 50 per cent from 2013 to 2014, large outbreaks continue.”

On polio, he said: “We celebrated for the first time seven months without any polio case in February 24. If we do not record any case by July 24, 2015 it would be that we have successfully interrupted the transmission of the virus and shall be certified polio free by the WHO.”

  According to the latest edition of Weekly Polio Update published by the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), no new wild poliovirus type 1 (WPV1) cases were reported in the past week. Nigeria’s total WPV1 case count for 2014 remains 6, compared to 53 in 2013. The most recent case had onset of paralysis on July 24, 2014, in Sumaila Local Government Area of Kano State.

  It reads: “No new type 2 circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus (cVDPV2) cases were reported this week. The most recent case had onset of paralysis on November 16  in Barde Local Governmental Area of Yobe state. The total number of cVDPV2 cases for 2014 in Nigeria remains 30.

  “National Immunization Days (NIDs) are scheduled for March 21 – 25 , 2015 using trivalent oral polio vaccine (OPV).”   


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