10 April 2017

Nigeria: Meningitis Outbreak - Govt Says Vaccination Is Free

Photo: Vanguard

The National Primary Healthcare Development Agency, NPHCDA, on Friday said vaccinations, including against Cerebrospinal Meningitis, CSM, are provided free of charge by the government.

The director general of the agency, Faisal Shuaib, said this via a press statement from his office in reaction to news report that members of the public were being asked to make payment before being vaccinated.

"The agency's attention has been drawn to news report of sharp practices of some health workers who are alleged to be demanding payments and other forms of financial incentives from innocent members of the general public before being vaccinated against Cerebrospinal Meningitis (CSM).

"The National Primary Healthcare Development Agency, therefore, wishes to put on record, emphatically, that vaccination against cerebrospinal meningitis, like other vaccination in the National Immunization schedule, is provided free of charge for all members of the public by the federal government", the director-general said in the statement.

Mr. Shuaib stressed that the Federal Government has spent billions of naira to procure, store, maintain and distribute such vaccines to all parts of the country, including affected areas as the need arises.

He therefore urged members of the public to report any health centre or health workers charging people to pay for the on-going meningitis vaccination in various parts of the country to the nearest law enforcement agencies.

He also advised members of the public to avoid overcrowded spaces, sleep in well-ventilated rooms, practice strict personal hygiene and avoid close and prolonged contacts with infected persons.

Earlier, Rilwanu Mohammed, the Executive Secretary of the FCT Primary Health Care Board, told NAN that the agency was not aware of individuals or organisations collecting money for CSM vaccination in the territory.

Mr. Mohammed, however, said the agency has exhausted its stock of CSM vaccines made available to it by donor agencies for the exercise.

He did not say if the agency would investigate the report to ascertain the vaccine and its source as well as the rationale behind the charge.

The officials however refused to categorically say if private hospitals were also barred from selling meningitis and other vaccines to patients, a practice common across Nigeria.

Following the outbreak of meningitis in some parts of the country, the federal government made available 500,000 doses of meningitis vaccines sent to most affected states. The government also announced it was expecting delivery of additional 823,000 doses to control the outbreak.

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