Meningitis Spread To Northeast Will Increase Burden - UNICEF
Nigeria's northeast is an area already devastated by Boko Haram insurgency of over seven years and the situation had led to acute malnutrition in the region, one that had drawn the attention of the United Nations' agency.
UNICEF has raised fears that over 100,000 children, pregnant women and nursing mothers could die of hunger and malnutrition in the region. It had requested of food that are nutritious to save them.
Report shows Meningitis has killed over 300 persons in different states, with most deaths occurring in Sokoto State.
At a meeting of Northern Traditional Leaders Committee on Primary Health Care and medical experts held in Kaduna held for talks on the outbreak of the disease, UNICEF representative Mohammed Fall, sympathised with the victims and reiterated commitment to partnering with the government in fighting the disease.
He particularly called for more attention to be given to the condition of women and children in the North east.
“We know that in the North East the children are facing the burden of malnutrition, they are already facing the consequences of conflict, now letting Meningitis penetrate in this area will increase the burden,” he said.
He stressed that all partners must pay special attention to ensure that the Meningitis did not spread into the North East.
The Country Representative of the World Health Organization (WHO), Dr Wondimagegnehu Alemu, said the type C meningitis currently causing havoc, was “new and has never been known to cause this magnitude of outbreak.
“That has left us with no option but to rely on few tools available including few number of vaccines that are available at global level".
He called for enhanced surveillance to trace new disease occurrence in Nigeria.
Alemu said WHO would work with the Federal Government, Sokoto and Zamfara States to build a robust surveillance system starting with local government level.
The Sultan, who was represented by the Emir of Zazzau, Mr Shehu Idris, said concerted efforts must be made to scale up immunisation and other preventive measures to contain the spread.
He said that the meeting was to reassure government of the traditional rulers support in ensuring that “our people and members of community are given the appropriate medical attention promptly to avoid outbreak of meningitis.”
Abubakar commended the response of the Federal, States and Local governments since the manifestation of the disease, and expressed the hope that it would be sustained “until the disease is completely eradicated or controlled".
The Sultan urged Nigerians to keep their environment clean, maintain personal and environmental hygiene and ensure that their houses were well ventilated.
The Chairman of the committee, who is also the Shehu of Bama, Mr Kyari Ibn El-Kanemi, told the gathering that the disease had so far affected 16 states in the North.
He promised that the traditional rulers would not relent in creating massive awareness to curtail further spread of the disease.