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Nigeria posts record 12,341 measles infections in 12 months

By Chukwuma Muanya
28 April 2022   |   3:38 am
Nigeria posted record 12,341 cases of measles in past 12 months, with global incidence increasing by 79 per cent in the first two months of 2022, according to latest report by the World Health Organisation..

[FILES] A Child with measles. Photo: Pixabay

•Medical directors seek stronger partnership with govt

Nigeria posted record 12,341 cases of measles in past 12 months, with global incidence increasing by 79 per cent in the first two months of 2022, according to latest report by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF).

The two global agencies, in a statement, yesterday, said Nigeria, Somalia, Yemen, Afghanistan, and Ethiopia had been confirmed as countries with largest outbreaks.

A breakdown shows that Nigeria, with 12, 341 reported cases in the last 12 months, is closely followed by Somalia with 9,068 infections, Yemen, 3,629, Afghanistan, 3,628 and Ethiopia with 3039 incidents.

Both organisations said spike in infections between January and February this year was a disturbing sign of a heightened risk for the spread of vaccine-preventable diseases and could trigger larger outbreaks, with millions of children at risk.

The United Nations agencies said pandemic-related disruptions, increasing inequalities in access to vaccines and diversion of resources from routine immunisation were exposing many children to vaccine-preventable ailments.

Danger for large outbreaks has increased as communities relax social distancing and other preventive measures against COVID-19 at the height of the pandemic.

Almost 17,338 were reported in the two months under review globally, compared to the 9,665 cases in the corresponding months.
UNICEF Executive Director, Catherine Russell, said: “Measles is more than a dangerous and potentially deadly disease. It is also an early indication that there are gaps in our global immunisation coverage, gaps vulnerable children cannot afford.

“It is encouraging that people in many communities are beginning to feel protected enough from COVID-19 to return to more social activities. But doing so in places where children are not receiving routine vaccination creates the perfect storm for the spread of a disease like measles.”

In 2020, 23 million children missed basic childhood vaccines through routine health services, the highest since 2009 and 3.7 million more than 2019 figures.

As of April 2022, the agencies report 21 large and disruptive measles outbreaks worldwide in the last 12 months. Most of the cases were reported in Africa and the East Mediterranean region. The figures are likely higher as the pandemic has disrupted surveillance systems globally, with potential under-reporting.

Director-General of WHO, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has interrupted immunisation services. Health systems have been overwhelmed, and we are now seeing a resurgence of deadly diseases, including measles. For many other diseases, the impact of these disruptions to immunizstion services will be felt for decades to come.”

HOWEVER, president of the Guild of Medical Directors, Dr. Raymond Kuti, has stressed the need to reposition the organisation for relevance in the healthcare sector.

Speaking on the forthcoming leadership and business summit billed for May 12 to 15 in Abuja, Kuti stated that over 70 per cent of healthcare services are provided by private health facilities, adding that the guild was desirous of stimulating a vibrant and dynamic private sector that could withstand the current economic downturn and still deliver.

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