Minister explains why Nigeria was caught unawares by Type C meningitis

… orders additional 2m doses, disowns Yari
Federal Government on Wednesday explained why it appeared that it was taken unawares by the outbreak of the Type C Meningitis, which has led to over 300 deaths out of the 2,996 cases recorded in 16 states and 54 local government areas of the country.
It explained that unlike the Type A Meningitis that the country had almost eliminated with constant vaccination in the past years, the Type C, which broke out this year, was caused by a total different strain of the Meningitis germ.
Briefing newsmen after the weekly Federal Executive Council meeting, the minister of state for health, Osagie Ehanire, said it was unfortunate that there was no cross immunisation, adding that the none availability of vaccines for Type C also compounded the problem.
He disclosed to State House correspondents that besides the 500,000 vaccine doses that the government was able to gather with the help of the World Health Organisation (WHO), another 826,000 doses donated free of charge from Europe was on its way while the ministry had also placed order for additional 2 million doses.
He noted that procuring the vaccines was expensive as they could not be ordered off the shelve because of its short life span, but assured that in time the government would be able to determine if it needed to increase the number of order.
He said, “On the Meningitis outbreak in the country and to allay the fears of Nigerians about the response of the ministry. There has been a very robust response of the ministry and the state governments of the states concern along with the Nigerian centre for disease control, Nigeria Primary Health Care Development Agencies, World Health Organisation (WHO), UNICEF and other partners.
“What has caused this problem to be peculiar is that it is caused by a total different strand of the Meningitis germ. It is the Type C. This country before suffers Meningitis around this time of year when dry season is turning to raining season in the area called the Meningitis belt that ranges all the way from Senegal down to Ethiopia, Eritra. And the prevailing germ was the Meningecocus A.
“And the mass vaccines that has taken place all these years has led to almost total elimination of Type A. Type C has been very rear and this year it is the Type C that appeared. Unfortunately there is no cross immunisation, if you are immune to Type A doesn’t make you immune to Type C. And because Type C is very rear the availability of vaccines has been very meagre relatively.
“We have mobilise vaccines to come in from all corners, 500,000 units doses of vaccines are being distributed and they have started vaccination campaign already.
“Government is also getting 826,000 units which are being shipped from Europe to us within the next fear days. The most affected states have been Zamfara, Sokoto and Katsina, and together they have about 85 percent of the cases. As of today, there have been 2,996 cases in 16 states and 54 local governments. There have been 336 fatalities of which 141 have been confirmed by laboratory tests.
“There is reactive vaccinations going on already, there is social mobilisation going on, teams are working in various states affected, particularly the most affected ones. There are two treatment centres being set up in every local government and lumber puncture kits have been distributed so that doctors can take samples to laboratory for testing. There are cases of field epidaemologists who are doing findings and contact tracing in other to interrupt the spread of this epidemic.”
However, the minister distanced the Federal Government from view expressed by the Zamfara State governor, Abdulazeez Yari, that God decided to punish Nigerians with Type C Meningitis because of our sins.
He said, “The Federal Government does not have views of that nature and I am not sure the state government can really continue to make that statement. When things happen, yes you can begin to look this way and that way for the cause of it but like I said nature played us unfortunate stroke but that is not to say we committed sin or anything. It does happen that things occur out of the blues.”

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