With the reported outbreak of cerebrospinal meningitis (CSM) affecting 23 States, and, National Youths Service Corps (NYSC)’s condition that Its 2017 Batch A Prospective Corp Members (PCMs) get immunised “as a matter of priority”, the search for the vaccine has become intense.
Healthstyleplus Online can authoritatively reveal that the hunt for CSM vaccine by intending Corpers has seen many fall into the hands of conmen who are taking advantage of the scarcity of the vaccine to squeeze out huge sums of money from desperate PCMs.
But responding to the state of confusion which has since ensued, Health Minister, Professor Isaac Adewole promised that the federal government shall cover all prospective Corpers posted to high risk states.
According to him, “We shall cover Youth Corpers going to high risk States free. We have to link up with NYSC on Monday to address this urgently”, Adewole told Healthstyleplus Online.
To achieve this, Technical Assistant on Communications, Nigerian Centre for Disease Control, Dr Lawal Bakare said, the centre plans to issue a joint statement with the Directorate of the NYSC as soon as possible on the directive.
Although he pointed out that the directive which appears on the NYSC website/portal for PCM, “is only a recommendation which makes sense but evidently, wrongly worded”.
Bakare observed also that CSM ‘Type A’ vaccine is no longer part of routine immunisation “today”.
The Directorate of NYSC as part of its current conditions for prospective Corp members, is asking that PCM should do mandatory medical examinations at Government owned Hospitals including Military Hospitals and come along with their medical reports to camp.
Also, the directorate boldly states on its Portal: “2017 ‘Batch A’ PCMs are encouraged as a matter of priority to be immunized against cerebrospinal meningitis before reporting to camp”.
Our Correspondent learnt that the requirements for medical examinations from government hospitals became a prerequisite for admission into service due to recent sudden deaths of some Corp members while in camps.
Unfortunately, the hunt for the meningitis vaccine by intending Corpers has led some onto the hands of fraudsters who are taking advantage to charge hugely for a shot of the vaccine.
Healthstyleplus Online can also reveal that a shot of the vaccine at few private hospitals in Lagos which have it stock goes between N9, 000 and N15, 000 while no public hospital in the State has it in stock.
Although many of the desperate Corp members who spoke to Our Correspondent expressed fear over the implication of not getting the immunisation, albeit the state postings are yet to be out as such no one knows yet which state he/she would be posted for the compulsory Youths Service.
But some prospective Corp members who were desperate to get immunised and learnt a shot goes for N6500 at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, LUTH, soon discovered “it is by private arrangement among some staff of the hospital”.
When contacted by our Correspondent, the Chief Medical Director, Professor Chris Bode in a text message denied the availability of the vaccine in the hospital.
According to Bode, “I have asked about the allegation and it was confirmed that LUTH does not sell any such vaccine even if it were to be available, which is not for now.
“Anyone who claims to do so on behalf of LUTH should be brought to our notice as such person will be handed over to the Police for prosecution”.
The CMD explained further that the global scarcity and high cost of the vaccine is responsible for its non-availability in most hospitals.
“It is only stored by the Federal Ministry of Health which deploys it only to areas of critical need nationwide. Till date, Lagos State is not one of such States”, said Bode.
Bode’s response was corroborated by Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Dr Jide Idris and Director, Disease Control, Dr. Eniola Erinosho; both told our Correspondent that the State was yet to receive any supply of CSM vaccine.
According to Idris, “The MenVac C is not yet supplied to the State by the Federal Ministry of Health/NCDC.
“They are presently available in states with confirmed cases of CSM”, said Idris.
As at May 9, the NCDC in its update reported there have been 13,420 suspected cases of meningitis from 23 states with 1,069 deaths, giving a case fatality ratio of 8%.
The NCDC listed six most affected States to include Zamfara, Sokoto, Katsina, Kebbi, Yobe and Kano States.