Meningitis Outbreak: Despite contrary facts, Nigerian govt claims it now has enough vaccines

Meningitis vaccination used to illustrate the story [Photo Credit:]
Meningitis vaccination used to illustrate the story [Photo Credit:]

The Federal Government has assured Nigerians that it has acquired enough vaccines to combat the Cerebro Spinal Meningitis Type C epidemic currently ravaging the country.

The Executive Director of National Primary Health Care Development Agency, NPHCDA, Faisal Shuaib, gave the assurance on Tuesday in Kaduna at an emergency meeting of the Northern Traditional Leaders Committee on Primary Health Care Delivery and stakeholders on the CSM outbreak.

The outbreak of Cerebro Spinal Meningitis has so far affected 130 local government areas in 21 states in Nigeria, with 4,637 suspected cases reported and 489 deaths recorded.

Mr. Shuaib’s assurance that the government now has enough vaccines comes despite the government ‎admitting that only 500,000 vaccines are currently in the country.

Zamfara, the state most affected by the epidemic, had said it needs more than a million vaccines.

‎Mr. Shuaib, however, said Nigeria now has relatively enough vaccines to immunise members of the public, especially in states where there have been severe outbreak of the disease.

The Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole, had said the outbreak of the disease shows that the ministry has to increase its surveillance outlook and preparation on curtailing future epidemic outbreak of diseases in the country.

“Though the ministry has been preparing for an outbreak of Meningitis in the country, the magnitude of the outbreak and casualties recorded has shown that a lot still needs to be done”, the minister said.

Mr. Adewole said the vaccines are scare and expensive, as vaccination of 1,296,000 people in epidemic threshold in the five worst affected states will cost $6.5 million.

He added that Nigeria will increase its stock of vaccines so that the country can move from reactive emergency vaccination to routine prevention vaccination.

Speaking in Kaduna on Tuesday, Mr. Shuaib said that the agency as at 2016 forecasted that there would be an outbreak of meningitis in the country during the dry season and that 634,394 doses of meningococcal A+C vaccine would be needed to respond to the outbreak in 2017.

He however lamented that the agency was not able to get the vaccines ready ahead of the outbreak due to lack of funds.

“At the beginning of the outbreak, there was no vaccine in Nigeria. That was one of the reasons for the slow response in vaccination of people against the disease. But as at today, we already have enough vaccines”, he stated.

Mr. Shuaib added that the agency, in collaboration with donor partners, the Ministry of Health and National Centre for Disease Control, had already given out 420,000 doses of vaccine in Zamfara, out of the 500,000 it had.

“We are expecting 823,000 conjugate Type C from the British government and it will be available in the country in a week’s time and there is an ongoing plan on starting vaccination in Sokoto”, he stated.

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