Meningitis outbreak continues to decline as more vaccines arrive

Thursday, May 11, 2017

ABUJA, NIGERIA

The response to the meningitis outbreak in Nigeria being led by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) continues to bear fruit as the outbreak continues to decline in the most affected States. Reactive vaccination campaigns led by the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) were successfully conducted first in Zamfara State, and subsequently in Sokoto State. Both State governments have fully engaged in conducting the campaigns in order to ensure that the vaccines get to people who are most at risk. It is heartening to see the very high vaccination coverage achieved in communities targeted by the most recent campaign in Sokoto State. The response to the campaign has been excellent with a very high turn out of people at vaccination centres in Zamfara and Sokoto States.

Efforts at securing more vaccines for the country are continuing with another batch of vaccines expected to arrive Nigeria in the next few days, just as mobilising vaccines for other affected States continues to be a priority.

In addition to the vaccination, the National Meningitis Emergency Operations Centre (NMEOC), with support from the World Health Organisation (WHO) has deployed teams to the most affected States to support coordination, case management and surveillance activities. The teams sent to Sokoto and Zamfara States are helping to improve sample collection and transportation, laboratory testing of samples, the clinical care of meningitis patients, as well as building the needed capacity to control the outbreak.

In addition, the NMEOC has commenced a national meningitis prevention campaign, prioritising the States within the Africa meningitidis belt in Nigeria. This campaign will be driving prevention messages through the mass media, new media and community structures to reach households and communities in the 19 northern States of Nigeria, and the FCT. This will not only help to prevent the further spread of this outbreak, but will also help the preparedness for any future outbreaks.

As at the 9th of May 2017, 13,420 suspected cases of meningitis have been reported from 23 states with 1,069 deaths, giving a case fatality ratio of 8%. In the previous two weeks, the most affected States (namely Zamfara, Sokoto, Katsina and Kebbi States) have all recorded a drop in number of cases. Kebbi and Niger States reported zero deaths over this period.

The Federal Government of Nigeria and partners will continue to work to reduce the effect of the current outbreak on affected communities and ensure that the outbreak is fully controlled. Planning has already started to prevent future outbreaks and ensure better preparedness.