11 April 2017

Nigeria: Meningitis Outbreak Death Toll Hits 489

Photo: Premium Times
Vaccination for Meningitis.

The current meningitis outbreak in Nigeria has so far killed at least 489 people, the health minister, Isaac Adewole, said Tuesday.

Mr. Adewole said 4,637 cases of cerebrospinal meningitis were recorded across the country by Monday.

The ministry had announced 428 deaths recorded on Friday.

The minister gave the latest figure during an emergency meeting of northern state governors and traditional rulers on Tuesday in Kaduna.

The meeting was convened by the Sultan of Sokoto, Sa'ad Abubakar III, to tackle the outbreak of meningitis in the northern region.

The minister said among the cases, 171 were confirmed to be the Type C meningitis with Zamfara, Sokoto, Katsina, Niger and Kebbi states most affected.

He said so far 823,000 doses of conjugated Type C had been delivered to the Federal Government by the UK government, while UNICEF had delivered over 1 million Type A of the vaccines.

Mr. Adewole, a professor of medicine, said the Federal Government would spend over $1 billion to procure vaccines to eradicate meningitis in the five most affected states in the Northern region.

"Federal needed $1,087 billion to procure vaccines and administer on some 21 million persons against the meningitis in the affected states," he said.

He said the federal government had collaborated with the states governments and international development partners to tackle to the outbreak in some 26 states so far affected in the country.

The minister said the vaccines were enough to tackle the outbreak in the most affected states.

He appealed to the traditional rulers in the region to be more proactive with media and other forms of campaigns to sensitise people on the needed for good hygiene and ventilation as well as avoid overcrowding in their homes.

He also appealed to states governments to increase their funding of the health sector to address the health challenges in the region.

He urged the governors to invest more funds to revitalize the Health system in the northern states to tackle health challenges.

The minister also urged state governments to tackle corruption among state officials.

"You must stop corruption, when funds are released, utilise the funds properly by tracking and proper monitoring," he said.

Meanwhile, the chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum and governor of Zamfara State, Abdulazeez Yari, said the state was worse hit by the meningitis due to lack of information for early detection.

Mr. Yari had earlier sparked outrage by claiming the disease was God's punishment to Nigerians for their sins.

He said the state had confirmed 216 deaths out of the 2,350 cases recorded in the state since the disease broke out.

Mr. Yari said the state had received 45,000 doses of vaccines and so far no new case had been detected in the last three days.

Representatives of WHO, UNICEF, DIFD, NEMA are among others attended the event.

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