North East records 21,011 measles cases, 100 deaths ― Survey

STATES in the North-East part of the country recorded no fewer than 21,011 cases of measles with 100 deaths in the past few months.

A survey by News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) indicated that while cases were recorded in Bauchi, Borno, Yobe and Gombe states, officials in Adamawa and Jigawa said no such cases were recorded in their states.

In Borno, where the highest number of cases was recorded, officials said security challenges in the state made it difficult to address the situation.

Dr Sule Mele, the Director, Borno State Primary Healthcare Development Agency, told NAN that 18,204 measles cases were recorded in the state from January till date, with 93 deaths, mostly children.

He attributed the outbreak of the disease to the inability of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) to access healthcare services due to the ongoing conflict between security forces and Boko Haram insurgents.

Mele noted that there was a high prevalence of the disease in ‘trapped’ communities due to the lack of access to vaccination.

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He added that the lack of access to crisis-prone areas was a major obstacle militating against effective response to the disease.

According to him, the primary healthcare agency has, however, scaled up activities to enhance surveillance, case management, laboratory services, social mobilisation and vaccination in some affected areas in spite of the challenges.

He said “we were able to conduct reactive vaccination for children between the ages of nine and 18 months in the affected areas.

“Arrangements are on for the conduct of a country-wide measles response to enhance coverage of the routine immunisation in communities and IDPs’ camps.’’

Yobe, another flash-point of conflicts between security agents and the insurgents, recorded 2,675 cases of measles, with seven deaths, Haruna Umaru, the acting Disease Surveillance and Notification Officer (DSNO) in the state said.

He said that “from January 2019 till June 2019, we received reports of 2,675 cases of measles, with seven deaths from the 17 local government areas in the state.

He, however, added that the situation had been controlled by the Rapid Response Teams.

Umaru said that whenever there was a report of communicable disease in the state, the Rapid Response Teams swung into action.

On its part, Bauchi State Government said it recorded two cases of measles in some communities sharing a border with Yobe.

However, Alhaji Bakoji Ahmed, the State Immunisation Officer (SIO) told NAN in Bauchi that those infected were from Yobe.

He added that “the communities affected are in Yobe but share a border with Dambam Local Government Area of Bauchi State.

“The only reason we accepted them is that they receive healthcare services and immunisation in Bauchi State.’’

The officer explained that the state government was not taking chances as it had intensified monitoring through its Emergency Operations Centres (EOC).

Ahmed said the EOC was being used to monitor signals and coordinate outbreak response across the state.

In Gombe State, the Epidemiologist in the Ministry of Health, Dr Nuhu Ville, said 130 cases of measles were recorded
from January till date, but no life was lost.

Ville said most of the cases were detected in Gombe and Dukku local government areas of the state but were treated and discharged.

According to him, the laboratory for measles test for the entire North East region is located in Gombe, and whenever
there is a suspected case, a test is conducted immediately and treatment commences.

He said there were 570 healthcare facilities across the state, each with surveillance officers who notified specialists’ hospital of such cases for appropriate actions.

Adamawa and neighbouring Jigawa, however, had no case of the disease, as claimed by officials in those states.

The Spokesperson of the Adamawa Ministry of Health, Alhaji Abubakar Mohammed, told NAN that “so far, there are no
cases recorded in the state.

“No case recorded so far but precautionary measures are in place to prevent any form of public health outbreak.

“Emergency Operation Centre is active. Our Disease Surveillance System is also very active; the state rapid response team has been on high alert in case of an outbreak.’’

Mohammed also said that the ministry and other stakeholders were not relenting in enlightenment campaigns on the
need to accept immunisation as a precautionary measure.

In Jigawa, Dr Kabir Ibrahim, the Executive Secretary of the state’s Primary Healthcare Development Agency (JSPHDA) said no case of measles had been recorded.

He said routine immunisation against the disease, as well as efforts by the state government, traditional institution and
relevant stakeholders, all played great roles in tackling the issue.

The executive secretary said that the agency, in collaboration with other stakeholders, were intensifying efforts to ensure that the state remained measles-free.

He further explained that the agency was doing its best toward educating the people on the need and importance of routine immunisation.

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