Battle against Meningitis – The Nation Newspaper

As the dry season gradually sets in, authorities of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) are taking preemptive measures against the outbreak of cerebrospinal meningitis. GBENGA OMOKHUNU reports

IN August 12, Nigeria introduced the Meningitis “A” Conjugate Vaccine into the routine Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI) schedule. Findings revealed that Meningitis ‘A’ remains a major global challenge and 25 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) fall within the meningitis belt; putting 26 percent of the Nigerian population at risk. According to a research conducted in April, 2017 which is in the public domain, findings also showed that reported cases of Meningitis is 32, and of that number, 12 people had died.

With the introduction of Meningitis ‘A’ Conjugate Vaccine, the FCT has commenced an integrated measles and Meningitis ‘A’ vaccination campaign which started November 16, and will be on till November 25, 2019. The Acting Executive Secretary, FCT, Primary Healthcare Board, Dr. Iwot Ndaeyo who spoke with The Nation on the ongoing vaccination exercise, disclosed that government targets 692, 695 children, adding that government has engaged the services of 664 teams who are currently vaccinating the children across the six area councils in the capital city. Ndaeyo advised parents and gaiudians to also go to any government health facility and vaccination posts nearest to them for the vaccines. He disclosed that the FCT Minister has approved the sum of N20 million as contributory fund. Ndaeyo advised that children should complete their routine immunization before the age of two years in a health facility nearest to them. His words: “This is a very important activity and if we do not get the result right, it will not be good. What we are having this time around is not for polio. We all know meningitis. This is a sickness that people live with during dry season. Usually, we are used to having vaccination probably in February or March in the heart of the dry season when there is outbreak, mainly in the northern parts of the country. The Federal Ministry of Health used to run up and down during this period looking for vaccine which is usually very wrong. If you want to protect someone against meningitis, it should be three months to the time you expect it will come. Nigeria is a nation where outbreak of meningitis occurs. So we are expected to have this preventive vaccination in September, October or latest in November. “So this has been a challenge. What have we done? We have found out that if meningitis vaccine is included in the national immunisation schedule, it will be easier to build a critical defence against the outbreak. That is why the Federal Ministry of Health, professional bodies, donor agencies, in their wisdom, agreed and endorsed that Meningitis-A, vaccine should be used as vaccination for children at nine months. “So this was introduced into the national immunisation schedule on August 9, 2019 and all the states of the federation including the FCT, must have this in their immunisation schedule. So children under one year should have meningitis ‘A’ vaccination at nine months along with measles

Battle against Meningitis

As the dry season gradually sets in, authorities of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) are taking preemptive measures against the outbreak of cerebrospinal meningitis. GBENGA OMOKHUNU reports. IN August 12, 2018, Nigeria introduced the Meningitis ‘A’ Conjugate Vaccine into the

  • The Acting Executive Secretary of the FCT Primary Health Care Board Dr Ndaeyo Iwot immunising a child at the official flag off of the Meningitis ‘A’ and Measles vaccination campaign in the FCT

risk. It is a devastating disease that poses a major public health challenge. Meningitis can be caused by many different pathogens, including viruses and fungi. But the highest global burden is seen with bacterial meningitis. Together with sepsis, meningitis is estimated to cause more deaths in children under five years of age than malaria does. The World Health Organisation (WHO) secretariat acknowledged the global relevance of an approach fully aligned with the objectives of the plan for (2019-2023).

How to prevent meningitis Dr. Ndaeyo also spoke on how to prevent meningitis. He said saying it is advisable to avoid overcrowded places, to sleep in well-ventilated places, to avoid close and prolonged contact with a sick person. Proper disposal of respiratory and throat secretions is also advised. Residents are also advised to observe hand hygiene and to sneeze into elbow joint/ sleeves, reduce handshakes, kissing, sharing utensils or medical interventions such as mouth resuscitation. They should also get vaccinated with a relevant meningococcal vaccine and avoid self-medication.” Many residents, especially those who stay in rural areas, have embraced the vaccination process and time frame. Most of the vaccination centres in the FCT have been receiving large turnouts of mothers who have been bringing their children for vaccination

and yellow-fever vaccines. So, we expected that in FCT, just like it is going to happen in other states of the federation, that children that are nine months of age should be fully immunised with Meningitis ‘A’ vaccine. “In FCT, we are having the Meningitis ‘A’ vaccination campaign for children, nine months to five years. This is a very clear indication that we do not want people to miss the opportunity to have the immunity. Measles vaccination campaign is expected to take place every two years. Recall that in 2013, there was also a catchup campaign for measles vaccination when children up to 15 years were given this vaccination. Every two years, there is supposed to be a follow up campaign so that any child that missed such opportunity at nine months will not also miss it in the year ahead. Every two years we have to do the measles vaccination campaign. The vaccination campaign for measles is also due. This is the second year. The last one we had was 2017. So we have got to combine the measles campaign with that of the Meningitis ‘A’ campaign in 2019. So the Meningitis ‘A’ catchup campaign for children 1 to 5 years down is a follow up campaign for children from 9 months to 5 years.” Continuing, Ndaeyo said, “We are expected to ensure that all the children in the target group are not left out and we have done a lot of sensitisation across several stakeholders. Plans have also been harmonised with the FCTA. The

cost of vaccinating a child in is about N600 per child. And if you look at our target in financial terms, it is about N40 million. But the FCT counterpart fund on its own is about N20 million for this programme. It has been approved by the Minister. UNICEF also contributed some fund. The training of the staff and those that will work on this programme are all costed in the fund. “This is a combined vaccination. Immunisation is not a guaranty that one will not have the sickness but it will minimise the effect. We are aware that 95 percent of people living in the FCT are in the rural areas, with poor amenities, particularly sanitation and security. The local hunters are part of our team. “FCT has been known by the Federal Government to be doing very well. Each area council is expected to support this activity.

If not for this campaign, it is possible that we would have been having more outbreaks than we are having now. We are targeting 692, 695 children for the Measles and Meningitis ‘A’ vaccination campaign. We are currently working with 664 teams for this campaign. They have been recruited and are working. The vaccines are very save and are not having side effects that would be dangerous or cause panic.” As the dry season sets in, Nigeria is trying to contain meningitis epidemic which has killed hundreds of people, mostly children. Meningitis is an infection of the thin lining that surrounds the brain and spinal cord, called the meninges. Viral and bacterial infections are the most common cause but bacterial meningitis is much more serious due to its rapid onset that poses significant death

It is a devastating disease that poses a major public health challenge. Meningitis can be caused by many different pathogens, including viruses and fungi. But the highest global burden is seen with bacterial meningitis. Together with sepsis, meningitis is estimated to cause more deaths in children under five years of age than malaria does

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