BY COBHAM NSA, ABUJA –
The Federal Government on Thursday described as untrue and panic induced stories of meningitis outbreak in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
It said there is no cause for alarm as all relevant health agencies of government are working relentlessly to curtail the growing Meningitis anxiety in Abuja and other States of the federation.
This is even as the Nigerian private sector has been challenged to invest in vaccine production for local disease prevention in line with global best practices.
Speaking at a joint media conference in Abuja to kick-start the partnership between the National Orientation Agency (NOA) and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Director General of NOA, Garba Abari said the recent outbreak of Cerebro-Spinal Meningitis (CSM) and the attendant rising death toll have made it inevitable for both organisations to collaborate on enhancing citizens’ awareness about disease prevention and control.
He said in order to curb public anxiety, the partnership will also ensure that government is more proactive in the face of any future unforeseen disease outbreaks.
Abari said Nigerians must diligently practice disease prevention measures to stem the tide of meningitis, adding that such measures include ‘good personal and environmental hygiene, proper waste disposal, avoidance of open defecation, prevention of malnutrition, especially in children, and early seeking of medical attention once signs of ill health are noticed.’
In his remarks, National Coordinator of NCDC, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu identified two types of meningitis outbreak currently in Nigeria. He classified them as the “real outbreak”, affecting five States, and the “anxiety outbreak” that is particularly affecting Abuja.
According to him, government fully understands the importance of combating both simultaneously, even as he reassured Nigerians that there is no real outbreak in Abuja or any other State outside of Zamfara, Sokoto, Katsina, Kebbi and Niger States.
Ihekweazu however admitted that the panic created in Abuja and other States now calls for a holistic approach to public sensitization on the disease, adding that the NCDC is working with State Governments and Primary Health Care centres across the country to boost their capacities, both in diagnosis and response to the current ravaging meningitis Cerebrum C strain which differs from the Cerebrum A strain that broke out in the country about two years ago.
The National Coordinator said going forward, government would provide the enabling environment to ensure better preparedness against disease outbreaks in the country.