Meningitis death rate in Nigeria slows down


Death rate of meningitis in Nigeria has reached a low of 8.6 per cent, recent data from the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) which was revealed on Monday in Abuja showed.

Meningitis is the inflammation of the membranes, known as meninges, that protect the brain and spinal cord from infection and direct physical injury.

The Director General, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, was quoted as saying that Nigeria experience a yearly outbreaks of Cerebro-Spinal Meningitis (CSM), with a high number of cases recorded during the dry season.

According to the annual prevalence of bacterial meningitis in Nigeria, between 2016 and 2017; 2017 and 2018, there was a reduction in the number of cases confirmed by the NCDC laboratories and deaths from meningitis in Nigeria.

“The confirmed cases and deaths reduced from 14,542 and 1,166 in 2017 to 3,467 and 303 in 2018 respectively.

“This shows over a 70 per cent reduction in confirmed cases and deaths over two seasons.

“As at June 11, 2019, 1,502 suspected meningitis cases and 129 deaths, death rate is at 8.6 per cent which is the proportion of people who die from meningitis among all individuals diagnosed with the disease over the period of time in question were reported from 226 Local Government Area in 26 states across Nigeria from 2018 to 2019 CSM season,” it added.

Ihekweazu said that state with highest prevalence and fatality rate was Kastina State with the highest number of reported cases of suspected meningitis in 2018 to 2019, with about 500 cases and 41 deaths.

According to him, there is appropriate therapy available in accordance with the CSM case management guidelines.

“NCDC supports states in providing commodities used to respond to outbreaks of meningitis medicines, lumbar puncture kits, especially in high burden states in preparedness for the CSM season.”

He said that an individual could be infected more than once by different stereotype of the meningitis bacteria.

The NCDC boss noted that meningitis was seasonal. Outbreaks of the disease was known to occur in Nigeria between December and May, stating that it may however start as early as November and last till June every year.

For those who survive meningitis, he said that the outcomes from being affected with meningitis vary from no complications, mild complications to severe complications.

“A range of after-effects of meningitis may occur and some of them are lifelong. After-effects and disabilities include deafness, blindness, brain, speech, neuro-motor problems and damage, amongst others,” he said.

Speaking on the licensed vaccines, he noted that conjugated MenA vaccine,
A catch-up vaccination campaign was being planned and in the process of implementation across the 36 states of the Federation including the Federal Territory Capital (FCT).

The NCDC boss said that vaccines were procured based on the epidemiology of meningitis in Nigeria.

“This is why we continue to invest in our laboratory services to ensure we can identify the serotype causing an outbreak.

“Currently, Meningitis type C is responsible for about a third of bacterial meningitis in Nigeria.

“At NCDC, we have set up various Technical Working Groups to oversee the routine management of epidemic-prone infectious diseases in Nigeria,” he explained.

Ihekweazu disclosed that NCDC works in collaboration with states to ensure that health workers were aware of the signs and symptoms of meningitis, and were prepared to respond effectively during outbreaks.

Globally, Meningitis affects about 2.8 million people each year.

This disease remains a major public health challenge affecting countries in the African meningitis belt.

In 2019, 15 states are currently affected in Nigeria.

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, so recognising the symptoms early and acting fast is crucial.

Meningitis can affect anyone, however, infants, young children, adolescents and older people are at greatest risk, with major risk factors being overcrowding and poor ventilation.

Bilkisu Pai