FG steps up prevention measures as meningitis kills 745, affects 8,057

• Number of cases, deaths rise by 103.5%, 70% in two weeks
• Ondo sensitises health workers

Determined to control the spread and fatality of the Cerebro Spinal Meningitis (CSM) serotype C epidemic in the country, the Federal Government (FG) has intensified preventive measures even as the disease has killed 745 and infected 8,057.

A breakdown of the latest figures released yesterday by the CSM National Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) managed by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) showed a 103.5 per cent increase in the number of cases and 70 per cent in the deaths, that is from 3,959 on April 5, 2017 to 8,057 on April 19, and from 438 mortality on April 5 to 745 on April 19 (yesterday).

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of NCDC, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu said the outbreak currently affects five states: Zamfara, Sokoto, Katsina, Kebbi and Niger. However, there are reported isolated cases in more than 15 other states.

He said the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) and the NCDC continue to lead the Federal Government response to the outbreak, with activities focused on four key outbreak response and control areas of raising awareness of the outbreak in communities, implementing enhanced surveillance to quickly detect and report new cases, vaccinating populations at the highest risk and treating persons diagnosed with the disease, as well as outbreak preparation in Local Government Areas (LGAs) and states at risk for the outbreak.

The NCDC boss added: “The NCDC will continue to engage proactively through all our channels of communication online and offline. We will also continue to work with our health reporters and journalists across the country to ensure easy reporting of facts. We need all hands on deck.”

According to the NCDC latest release, “As at April 17, 2017, 8,057 suspected cases of meningitis have been reported across the country; 230 (three per cent) were laboratory confirmed. A total of 745 deaths (9.2 per cent) have been recorded. Of the 8,057 cases, 7,519 (93 per cent of cases) have occurred in the five states that have reached outbreak levels for CSM serotype C.”

Ihekweazu said to increase awareness of the outbreak and coordinate response across states, the Northern Traditional Leaders Committee on Primary Health Care (NTLCPHC) convened a meeting of governors and traditional leaders from all northern Nigerian states.

The meeting, held in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH) and its agencies, and international partners focused on strategies to end the outbreak. Ihekweazu said enhanced surveillance activities activated by several states in partnership with NCDC and partners have contributed to increased case finding and more timely reporting and that NCDC Rapid Response Teams of trained doctors and scientists continue to provide on-site outbreak investigation and control support to affected states.

Meanwhile, the Ondo State Ministry of Health through its Emergency Response Team kicked off a sensitization yesterday at the State Specialist Hospital, Akure, as a proactive measure to curtail the spread of the endemic disease to the state.

The Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Dr. Taye Oni, said the sensitisation was one of the proactive measures taken by the state to protect its health workers, whom he noted “are at risk.”

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