World Health Organisation (WHO) says it commenced campaign to eliminate Yellow fever in Nigeria in February and has vaccinated two million people in Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps in Borno state and surrounding communities since then.
Ms Charity Warigon, WHO’s Communications Officer, made this known in a statement in Abuja on Friday.
She stated that the campaign, which would run through 2018, was aimed at vaccinating 25 million Nigerians in different parts of the country, while immunisation would continue in the coming years.
She noted that the campaign was in response to yellow fever cases reported in the country since 2017 when the first case was confirmed in Kwara state.
She added that since then, 41 cases were confirmed in seven states and more than 1,700 suspected cases reported from all states in the country.
Warigon said that the campaign was the largest ever yellow fever mass campaign in the country, adding that the programme was part of comprehensive strategy by WHO, UNICEF and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, to Eliminate Yellow Fever (EYE) in Africa by 2026.
She stated that “in Borno where millions of people are in need of humanitarian assistance, no case of yellow fever has been confirmed so far. The presumptive positive case of the disease however highlighted the importance of protecting the highly vulnerable population against yellow fever in this extremely fragile area.”
The communications officer quoted Dr Wondi Alemu, the WHO Nigeria Representative, as saying “vaccinating IDPs in Borno is crucial. This is because protecting vulnerable populations living in high-risk conditions will prevent the spread of diseases, including yellow fever if an outbreak occurs.”
She stated that the living condition of millions of people in the state and tide of outbreaks across the country made it urgent to target the most-at-risk people with the vaccination.
Warigon said WHO was also supporting the campaign in Nigeria through training of workers to help track cases, to coordinate and provide logistic support.
She noted that more than 3,000 WHO-trained volunteers in Borno, including senior supervisors, healthcare workers and community leaders, worked together to vaccinate more than two million people aged between nine months and 45 years in IDPs camps and surrounding host communities.
She, however, called for more efforts at creating awareness among citizens on the importance of vaccination against yellow fever.
She said vaccination was a critical part of the campaign and crucial to guarantee the protection of high number of people in the country.
She maintained that immunisation was the most important and effective measure against yellow fever, as a single dose of the vaccine was sufficient to provide life-long immunity and protection against the disease.