The recent outbreak of Cerebrospinal Meningitis (CSM) serotype C in the country has reportedly peaked in five States of Zamfara, Sokoto, Katsina, Kebbi and Niger with death toll rising to 745.
Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) in its latest update on Meningitis outbreak response stated that though the government through the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA) continues to respond positively, but the number of affected persons has risen to 8057 out of which only 230 were confirmed by laboratory tests.
The NCDC noted that active case search and response has been intensified across the country while awareness on the outbreak in communities, enhanced surveillance to early detection and report of new cases as well as vaccination of populations at the highest risk are all ongoing.
As part of the efforts to increase awareness of the outbreak and coordinate response across states, the NCDC and NPHCDA held a strategic meeting with Northern Traditional Leaders Committee as well as convened a meeting of governors and traditional leaders from all Northern Nigerian states on how to end the outbreak in a short while.
The traditional leaders had pledged their commitment to a continued awareness-raising in their communities and jurisdictions.
The NCDC reported also that at national level and in affected states, activities aimed at driving information into grassroots —including advocacy meetings with religious leaders, civil society organizations, health professionals, entertainers and media organizations has continued.
Enhanced surveillance activities activated by several states in partnership with NCDC and partners have contributed to increased case finding and more timely reporting. NCDC Rapid Response Teams of trained doctors and scientists continue to provide on-site outbreak investigation and control support to affected states.
The NPHCDA successfully led vaccination in Zamfara and in Katsina targeting persons between ages 2 – 29 years in the priority LGAs in both states.
It stated also that preparations are at advanced stages for the next round of vaccination in priority wards and local government areas in Sokoto State while distribution of medicines and other essential commodities to treat persons with meningitis in key affected states is ongoing.
The CSM National Emergency Operations Center at the NCDC has been leading the national coordination and support for the outbreak response in affected states.
According to the Incident Manager of the response, Dr. John Oladejo, “We are grateful to all Rapid Response Team members, including government agency and partner staff who have remained at their different field posts, through the Easter period working on this outbreak response and control.”
On the need to ensure citizens are continuously engaged on the response, Chief Executive Officer, NCDC, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu said, “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”