Nigeria launches campaign against Measles and Meningitis

By Gloria Essien

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As part of efforts to boost the immunity of children against measles and meningitis in the country, children from the 19 Northern states in Nigeria are to be vaccinated in a large scale campaign implemented by the Nigerian government and WHO with Gavi support.

The government, through the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) and the World Health Organization (WHO), with support from Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, kicked off a campaign to reach more than 28 million children with lifesaving vaccines.

Speaking on preparations for the campaign, Dr Joseph Oteri, Director of Disease Control and Immunization, NPHCDA said,

“Measles is a highly contagious respiratory viral disease with increased mortality and morbidity in children under five years. Nigeria has experienced repeated outbreaks of measles in recent years due to low routine immunization coverage. In addition, Nigeria is within the meningitis belt, where the incidence rate is very high, especially in the North”.

He re-iterated government’s resolve in ensuring that every eligible child is reached with these lifesaving vaccines.

“We will go to markets, schools, churches, mosques and everywhere we can get good catchment to reach our target population. No child deserves to die from any vaccine preventable disease. Gavi is committed to supporting Nigeria in achieving its goal of improved immunisation coverage. Diseases like measles are both devastating and easily preventable. More than 21 million lives around the world have been saved with the measles vaccine” Oteri said.

Combating outbreak through vaccination

On his part, Gavi Country Programmes Managing Director, Thabani Maphosa, said that so many Nigerians are at risk from meningitis every year and immunisation with the MenA vaccine can help limit the outbreaks.

He stated that Gavi is working towards vaccinating more than 279 million children in Africa’s meningitis belt and that MenA has shown the ability to reduce prevalence of the disease.

He further stated that Gavi is supporting the government of Nigeria by funding measles and MenA vaccines, as well as operational costs for these campaigns.

‘For its part, WHO Nigeria has trained over 44,000 health workers and is mobilizing over 17,000 vaccination teams to support these campaigns” he said.

The World Health Organisation Team Lead of the Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI) Dr Fiona Braka, reiterated  that, “The measles vaccine remains the most cost effective preventive measure against measles and WHO is committed to supporting the Nigerian government in reaching every eligible child in the country with the needed vaccines irrespective of their location.”

Measles is a highly contagious viral disease. It remains an important cause of death among young children globally, despite the availability of a safe and effective vaccine.

 

Emmanuel Ukoh