24 April 2019

Nigeria: World Meningitis Day - Survivors Need More Support in Nigeria

Today is the World Meningitis Day and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, (NCDC) is seeking support for survivors of the dreadful but preventable disease.

"Life After Meningitis" is the theme for this year's commemoration.

According to the health agency, the theme aims to highlight the courage and bravery of meningitis survivors and their families in overcoming the challenges that they face on a daily basis, and the need to support them.

Marking the event, the NCDC, in a statement on Tuesday, said there is need for increased "awareness on the signs, symptoms and the devastating after-effects that it (meningitis) can have and the extreme importance of early diagnosis and treatment."

Yearly, April 24 is dedicated to raise awareness on the adverse health burden of meningitis across the world.

Nigeria is among countries that fall under the meningitis belt.

The NCDC had declared that the 2018/2019 meningitis season began last October.

At least 44 deaths have been reported in the latest outbreak of the disease, taking case fatality ratio to 11.1 per cent, data from the centre show.

This year alone, 15 states are currently affected in Nigeria, according to NCDC.

Meningitis cases have been found to occur through the year in the country with an observed increase during the dry season. The disease is highly contagious and can kill within 24 hours.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), about 10 to 15 per cent of those surviving meningococcal meningitis will suffer from complications, including mental disorders, deafness, palsies and seizures; or disabilities resulting from damages to the nervous system, including hearing loss, learning and behavioural difficulties; and other complications such as loss of sight, limb, and organ damage.

"Raising awareness of Meningitis and its after-effects is therefore, very vital," said NCDC director, Chikwe Ihekweazu, who signed Tuesday's statement.

"We all have a collective responsibility to address this public health challenge."

Mr Ihekweazu described as crucial, recognising the symptoms early and acting fast.

The official called on relevant government agencies and partners to "sensitise Nigerians on the disease and coordinate response nationally in the event of an outbreak."

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