Meningitis: 1,000 Cases Reported In Sokoto – Tambuwal

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…As DFID castigates North’s weak health system
BY AMOS TAUNA, KADUNA – Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal of Sokoto State on Tuesday described Cerebrospinal meningitis (CSM), as a dangerous epidemic which has so far recorded over 1,000 cases in his state.
This is just as the Nigerian Representative in the Department for International Department (DFID), Dr. Salma Kolo, declared that the outbreak of CSM, particularly in the north is as a result of the region’s weak health system.
Tambuwal, who was addressing an emergency meeting of Northern traditional leaders committee on Public Health Centre, and some governors of the North-west geo-political zone, said that meningitis is ravaging many parts of the country, saying that collaborations between the governors and traditional leaders is vital. 
He said; “We had cases in seven local governments areas of Sokoto state, Bodinga, Dange Shuni, Wammako, Kafin Rafa, Gadabawa with over 1,000 cases of the disease recorded. We were on the threshold of having an epidemic.” 
“For the state to address the disease and stop it from becoming an epidemic, an awareness campaign was set up on ventilation of living areas, decongestion of where our children are living. We received over 20, 000 doses of vaccine from the federal ministry of health, we are expecting over 800, 000 doses of the vaccine though our target is 2 million vaccine doses for most of our children between the ages of two and 29. 
“We have never witnessed this type of Type C meningitis in the state which is why we have so much challenge in the state.” 
Speaking in turn, Dr. Kolo appeal to the leaders, especially governors to continue to put in more efforts in strengthening the health system, particularly primary healthcare system.
According to him; “The vulnerable groups are mainly women and children that are jobless, have no access to funds. Therefore, their care must be provided for, free of charge, 100 per cent free of charge and that is possible. It has been demonstrated in Nigeria and we are beginning to see the outcome of such commitment through the work that we do with the state governments.
“The government of United Kingdom is concerned about the outbreak of meningitis in Northern Nigeria, just like it is concerned about the case of maternal and new born mortality. It sympathises with the government and people of Northern Nigeria and people of Nigeria in general.
“The United Kingdom government had immediately sent its contribution of 800,000 dozes of meningitis vaccines through World Health Organization (WHO) and that has been acknowledged and it is already being utilised in the country.
Also speaking, Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna  State, said it was sad for governors to see the number of deaths recorded in their states due to meningitis.
The Northern states have been worst hit by the epidemic as Zamfara, Katsina and Sokoto, account for 93 percent of the cases.
The Convener of the meeting and Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar III, who was represented by the Emir or Zazzau, Alhaji Shehu Idris, said the meeting was timely and commendable.
He assured that traditional leaders in collaboration with stakeholders will do everything possible to assist in ensuring appropriate medical assistance to avoid future outbreak of meningitis in the North.
WHO Country Representative, Dr. Wondimagegnehu Alemu, said the current type C is a new one which has never been known to cause this magnitude of outbreak, adding that it used to be only sporadic cases.
Similarly, UNICEF Country Representative, Dr. Muhammed Fall said meningitis is a highly communicable disease, but can be easily controlled through very simple improved hygiene measures, understanding the mode of transmission.
He said: “I need to call attention of your excellences to the situation in the North East. We know that, in the North East, children are already facing the burden of malnutrition. They are already facing all the consequences of the devastating conflicts.
“Now, letting meningitis penetrate this area would increase the burden and this is why I want to take this opportunity to appeal to the Federal Minister of Health to appeal to all the partners for special attention to be paid to avoid the disease getting and spreading to the North-east.”
Cerebrospinal meningitis (CSM), has spread across 19 states in the country, with 3,959 suspected cases reported and 438 deaths recorded as at April 5, 2017.
 

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