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How delayed preventive plans encouraged yellow fever, others, by FG, experts

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Yellow fever patient

The Federal Government and medical experts have confirmed the possible resurgence of Wild Polio Virus (WPV) and other preventable diseases as the dry season approaches.

They, nevertheless, blamed the recent outbreak of yellow fever, cholera, measles, and meningitis in some states on delayed preventive plans, especially vaccination campaigns due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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The stakeholders said many children had missed out on routine immunisation this year, making future outbreaks inevitable.

On what government is doing to address the development, Executive Director of National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr. Faisal Shuaib, said: “The concerns with regards to the possible resurgence of polio in Nigeria and possibility of an outbreak of some deadly diseases as we enter the dry season are genuine. There are planned activities in the agency’s multi-year and annual work plans to address these concerns and ensure polio eradication and reduction in morbidity and mortality from other preventable diseases in the country. Implementation of the 2020 work-plan was delayed/slowed due to COVID-19 outbreak.”

He said to check the reappearance of polio in the country, there were ongoing supplemental immunisation activities (SIAs) in identified high-risk states and council areas, as well as routine immunisation and active case surveillance for detection of possible causes.

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The physician said the inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) had also been introduced to ensure children were fully immunised with two doses.

Also speaking, a virologist/vaccinologist, Dr. Simon Agwale, noted: “Many children across the world have missed out on routine vaccination this year, making future disease outbreaks inevitable. This is due to disruptions in the delivery and uptake of immunisation services caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. This is creating ‘immunity gaps’ for several infectious diseases and if nothing is done, we will see a resurgence of cholera, typhoid, yellow fever, measles, etc. in the next coming years.”

Agwale, who also chairs the Africa COVID-19 Vaccine Manufacturing Task Force, added: “One of the main reasons was the lockdown which prevented the shipment of vaccines.

So, I think without domestic production of vaccines, Nigeria and Africa will continue to see a decline in immunisation campaigns.”

In his remarks, a professor of virology, Oyewale Tomori, submitted: “We were sure that the undue and irrational focus on COVID-19 outbreak would adversely affect other health interventions such as routine and mass vaccination and surveillance for other diseases and regular hospital activities.”

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