Meningitis outbreak: Over 336 killed as Government ramps up response

The Meningitis outbreak started in Zamfara before it spread to other states.

"Under the Current Situation in Nigeria as at Friday, March 31, 2017, 90 Local Government Areas (LGAs) in 16 States of the Federation are so far affected including Zamfara, Katsina, Sokoto, Kebbi, Niger, Nassarawa, Jigawa, FCT, Gombe, Taraba, Yobe, Kano, Osun, Cross Rivers, Lagos and Plateau".

Last week, Chikwe Ihekweazu, chief executive officer (CEO) of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), disclosed that the vaccines for the new strand of the disease were not commercially available. He added that the vaccine is expensive and scarce.

A statement Tuesday says most victims are between 5 and 14.

"The Federal Government, through its agencies; the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, National Primary Healthcare Development Agency and partners activated an Emergency Operations Centre on Monday to manage the ongoing outbreak of Cerebrospinal Meningitis on Monday".

"Health workers are also advised to avoid close contact with suspected and probable cases of CSM based on the case definition distributed, ensure proper disposal of respiratory and throats secretions of cases, report suspected or probable cases, observe universal safety precautionary measures and make use of personal protective equipment when in contact with such cases as highlighted in the Fact-Sheets earlier forwarded to them" he said.

"The team will also deploy and coordinate a robust national communication and social mobilisation campaign, focused on (meningitis) prevention and control in rural and urban areas of affected states", the centre said.

The Committee Chairman, Senator Mao Ohuabunwa (Abia North), lamented that awareness remains low across the country.

"The most important thing is for our people to know that their relationship with God is not smooth".

He also said a drop of the vaccine cost between $30 and $50.He said the centre is facing paucity of funds saying "The budget we have is like sending soldiers to the Northeast without guns".

He said, "Since it showed up in the second week of December, the alert to the public is not good enough, particularly as it is known that affected people come late to hospital".

The committee has summoned Health Minister, Professor Isaac Adewole and requested for weekly update on meningitis from the agencies.

Meanwhile, Senate President Bukola Saraki has assured that the Senate would provide the necessary support to the Ministry of Health in the bid to contain and end the outbreak.

  • Lila Blake