By Mrs. Boade Akinola, Director, Media/Public Relations,
Federal Ministry of Health
The Honourable Minister of Health, Prof Isaac Adewole, has assured Nigerians that the Federal Ministry of Health under his purview would nip the outbreak of meningitis ravaging some states in the bud. He made this assertive conviction about the capability of the Federal government after his ministry issued public advisory warning to Nigerians after 328 deaths associated with Meningitis have been recorded since November 2016 when he spoke extensively on efforts employed and deployed so far to curtail the further spread of the epidemic.
In his words, “we have started working with all the affected states in specific areas of collaboration on massive awareness and sensitization, laboratory investigation and analysis, proper documentation and disease surveillance techniques through the National Centre for Disease Control and National Primary Health Care Development Authority (NPHCDA) who have been of tremendous support since the outbreak. We are in constant discussion with World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF, E-health Africa and other international health agencies for supplies of vaccines and injections.
Through our initiatives, we have secured 500,000 doses of the meningococcal vaccines from WHO which will be used in Zamfara and Katsina states while additional 800,000 units from the British government .By next Tuesday, there will be a meeting with the International Review Group of The World Health Organization (WHO) where request for additional vaccines shall be approved, as part of practical and medically certified efforts to stem this ugly incidence.
Even with the tunnels of accomplishment made, we are not relenting on all the progress made, as we have been assured of millions of vaccine doses through other notable and international donor agencies. Unfortunately, Nigeria had always been bedevilled with the stereotype A in years past but this new strain of the bacterial disease, Meningitis Stereotype C which the vaccine is not commercially available in required quantities and can only be shipped to the country by WHO only if laboratory investigation confirms the existence of the strain type C.
Our ongoing spirited effort is geared to upscale through nationwide immunisation campaign while navigating the menace using a combination vaccine by conducting active case finding, strengthening surveillance, case detection, verification and communication management, performing lumbar puncture of suspect cases in a well coordinated atmosphere under NCDC. Our partners are already re-training physicians on the effective collection of cerebrospinal fluid for diagnosis.
We are equally advocating for prompt diagnosis and have issued directive to all Federal medical facilities and PHCs to treat all cases of meningitis free of charge. All Nigerians especially residents of Katsina, Kano, Kebbi, Sokoto, Niger, Zamfara and Jigawa states are advised to seek early attention when discomforted with symptoms of Cerebro Spinal Meningitis (CSM) and avoid clogging together in unventilated and over-crowded rooms.