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Nigeria intensifies cross border immunization, with special focus on nomadic populations



In renewed efforts to vaccinate children traversing in and out of Nigeria, the World Health Organization (WHO) is supporting the government in an initiative to improve supplemental and routine immunization activities in the North Western region, which has a significant nomadic population.

Nomadic pastoralists live beyond the reach of established health care programs that are designed to serve sedentary populations. As a result, these groups are often under-immunized and out of the reach of existing disease surveillance activities.

Speaking on the intervention, Mallam Gwanda Mairakuma of Maiadua local government in Niger Republic said that, “with this intensified commitment, vaccination activities have reduced the number of complications associated with Measles infection on our children”.

Tracking nomadic populations

Difficulties have been experienced in the past in tracking and reaching nomadic populations with services such as sensitization on early disease reporting, immunization activities and access to general healthcare services due largely to the nature of their movement, which often involves settling in hard-to-reach transit camps.

Reaching the nomadic population in the cross border areas of the North Western region has been particularly difficult due to the nature of the population which involves settling in hard to reach and sometimes security compromised areas, making the zone the highest with under-immunized children in the country. Jigawa and Katsina states in particular are maximizing efforts in reaching these populations by identifying major migrant groups and characterizing the movement of nomadic populations in the region for effective administration of vaccines.

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In collaboration with Katsina State government, WHO has intensified efforts to reach nomadic communities across the state with immunization services, sensitization on prompt disease reporting and on the need to access health care services. The nomadic settlements span across 14 Local Government Areas (LGAs), wards and settlements passing through international borders with Niger republic. LGAs with nomadic routes include: Baure, Dutsinma, Kafur, Ingawa, Kaita, Jibia, Mashi, Charanchi, Musawa, Batsari, Maiadua, Zango, Danja, Kusada LGAs among others.

These communities are among the most marginalized, hard to reach and nomadic in nature who migrate across LGAs, States and international borders due to their transitory movement and settlement in camps and hamlets. The State conducts series of activities to enhance immunity and interrupt transmission of Polio and other priority diseases along transit exit points and settlements with nomadic routes through immunization. Jigawa State also shares international borders with Niger republic in two LGAs namely, Sule tankarkar and Maigatari.

“WHO Nigeria supported a 10km strip vaccination along Nigeria-Niger border, using mOPV2 in October 2018 which was conducted along with vaccination at border cross points in March through April 2019,” says Dr Audu Sunday, WHO Jigawa State Coordinator.

“WHO has also supported Jigawa state to establish in-between round vaccination teams providing routine immunization, polio vaccination and Measles vaccines along the border cross points as well as the Maigatari international market. Disease surveillance officers of both countries also conduct joint visits to health facilities in communities at the border using Standard operating procedures for cross border notification of VPDs,” he adds.

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High numbers of high risk children vaccinated

In Katsina state, 1,645 eligible nomadic children were reached during nomadic vaccinations in Ingawa and Maiadua LGAs between April and June 2019 from the conduct of Outbreak Response (OBR) and in between rounds, respectively.

For the same period in Jigawa State, 6,280 Nigerien and 5,115 Nigerian children were vaccinated at the border crossing points. At least 8,608 children were vaccinated with mOPV2 in the 10km strip outbreak response in October 2018 in two districts of Niger Republic (Dungas and Magaria).

Meanwhile, for in-between round activities at the border 10,183 children received bivalent oral polio vaccine (bOPV) while 3,358 were vaccinated with Inactivated Polio Vaccine (IPV) as well as 1,035 with measles vaccine.

The Director Primary Health Care (DPHC) Jigawa State, Dr Shehu Sambo during a supportive supervision to Miga LGA appreciated WHO’s support in establishing the nomadic vaccination. “We are happy with WHO’s support and encourage health workers to take the opportunity to improve routine immunization coverage across the State.”

Support for Polio eradication to Nigeria through WHO, is made possible by funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Department for International Development (DFID – UK), European Union, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, Government of Germany through KfW Bank, Global Affairs Canada, United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Community Chest Korea, KOFIH (Korea), Rotary International and the World Bank.

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138 NYSC members test positive for COVID-19, NCDC reveals




No fewer than than 138 members of the National Youth Service  Corps (NYSC) had so far tested positive for the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and have been isolated, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) disclosed.

NCDC also revealed that 34,685 people have been tested for coronavirus (COVID-19) across all the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) camps in the country.

The Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, made this known on Monday at the briefing of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

Dr. Ihekweazu added that those whose samples were collected included corps members and NYSC officials in various camps.

“We tested over the last few weeks a total, so far, of 34,785 people of which we found a total of 138 positive only.

“So, we have a total prevalence of 0.4 per cent; in fact, about one in 200 new people coming into the camps turned out to be positive.

“None of them were allowed into the camp; all of them were excluded and either managed at home or the treatment centre depending on if they had symptoms and what state they were in,” the NCDC boss added.

He also spoke about the progress made so far in the area of vaccination against the disease, noting that four vaccines had already been announced.

Dr Ihekweazu stated that while these have brought excitement, there were lots to consider to guide decisions on which to go for when they became available.

The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, who also briefed reporters, gave an update on COVID-19 infections, treatment, and fatalities.

He was that Nigeria was by no means out of the woods yet and urged the people to present themselves for testing.

Dr Ehanire said the PTF would continue to keep vigilance as COVID-19 cases surge in other parts of the world.

He gave an assurance that the ministry was taking measures to ensure that vaccine security was sure once they were available for the public.

The minister also disclosed that it has been confirmed that the strange deaths in Delta and some other states were as a result of yellow fever.

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Experimental COVID-19 Vaccine Shows 95% Effectiveness – Pfizer, BioNTech




Pfizer and BioNTech said Wednesday that a completed study of their experimental Covid-19 vaccine showed it was 95 percent effective.

They said the two-dose vaccine had no serious safety concerns and that the companies will apply for emergency use authorization from US regulators “within days.”

The announcement came as coronavirus cases are surging in the US and other parts of the world, and boosted hopes for an end to the pandemic that has upended life around the globe.

“The study results mark an important step in this historic eight-month journey to bring forward a vaccine capable of helping to end this devastating pandemic,” said Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla.

“With hundreds of thousands of people around the globe infected every day, we urgently need to get a safe and effective vaccine to the world,” he added.

Pfizer had said last week after a preliminary analysis that its product was more than 90 percent effective.

On Monday another biotech firm involved in the race to develop a vaccine, Moderna, said its own vaccine was 94.5 percent effective, according to a preliminary analysis.

Pfizer has previously said it expected to contact the US Food and Drug Administration to apply for an Emergency Use Authorization by the third week of November.

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The FDA had imposed a requirement on Covid-19 vaccine makers of having at least two months of follow-up with volunteers after their second dose, taken 28 days after the first, in order to ensure the drugs are safe.

Moderna developed its vaccine along with the US National Institutes for Health.

Both vaccines use mRNA (messenger ribonucleic acid) technology to deliver genetic material to the body that makes human cells create a protein from the virus.

This trains the immune system to be ready to attack if it encounters SARS-CoV-2.

Other vaccines that are in late-stage trials, such as one being developed by Johnson & Johnson and another by Oxford University and AstraZeneca, use modified viruses to deliver genetic material for the same purpose.

No mRNA vaccines have ever been approved, but Anthony Fauci, the United States’ top infectious disease scientist, told AFP Tuesday the technology had now “established itself.”


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Oyo govt. denies cholera outbreak in community



Oyo State Government on Wednesday denied reports of alleged cholera outbreak  in Lagun Village of Lagelu Local Government Area of the state, declaring that there is no evidence to back recent claims.

According to a report of the Ministry  of Health’s technical committee that investigated the matter, signed by the State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Bashir Bello, the claims of cholera outbreak were unfounded.

The report, titled “Re: Rumours of suspected cholera outbreak in Lagelu LGA of Oyo State,” revealed that investigations by the state’s Epidemiological Team, including the DSNO and LGA Teams in Lagelu and surrounding LGAs, showed there is no evidence to back such rumour.

Dr. Bello in a statement issued by Mr. Taiwo Adisa, the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Makinde, added  that the team dispatched to carry out the investigation, was also not shown any fresh grave or fresh burial ground to ascertain claims of mass death.

The statement stated, however, that the Ministry had placed pre-positioned antibiotics and intravenous fluids at the state’s health facility in Lagun to prevent an outbreak of cholera in the area.

The Commissioner further  disclosed that the state has also begun an active case search in affected communities and neighbouring states as well as community engagement and enlightenment on the prevention of diarrheal diseases including cholera.

He explained that findings from the field showed that the ailment recorded affected only four individuals and not 10 people as claimed in the media and that there was no evidence to back the claim of six deaths.

He maintained that the ailment could be ascribed to poor hygienic conditions, adding that the Ministry also suspected cases of gastroenteritis or likely food poisoning.

The report stated: “The Ministry of Health received reports of suspected cases of cholera in Lagun Village on Friday, 6th of November, 2020. Following the notification, the state and the LGA surveillance network began intensified action at investigation and response, and findings from the field investigation are as follow:

“Ten (10) cases of diarrhoea and vomiting were reported to have occurred in Lagun Village by members of the community. Six of the cases were said to have died.

“But, upon investigation, no freshly dug graves were found in the said community and we only found two cases at Faith Clinic, Ejioku, and another two cases at the Lagun Rehabilitation Centre both private hospitals.

“All four cases are alive and are no longer stooling, therefore, stool samples could not be collected from them for confirmation of the aetiological agent (causative), while they have also been treated and stabilised.

“We observed poor sanitary conditions in the village, as the wells were not covered and were in poor sanitary conditions.

“We hereby confirm that with the active efforts of the state epidemiologist and his team (DNSO, LGA Team in the affected LGA and neighbouring LGAs), no real death attributable to cholera had been confirmed.

“The reported deaths were neither seen nor traceable and, therefore, cannot be attributed to cholera outbreak, as no patient within the community actually reported to any government or local government facility in the said local government.

“The ailment recorded (and deaths, if any) could be ascribed to very poor hygienic conditions and we suspect cases of gastroenteritis or likely food poisoning in the affected community.”

Speaking on preventive steps already taken by the Ministry, Bello added: “We have pre-positioned antibiotics and intravenous fluids at the General Hospital, Lagun, for care of emerging cases. 

“The Ministry has also embarked on community engagement and enlightenment on prevention of diarrheal diseases including cholera.

“We have also embarked on active search in affected communities and neighbouring communities and have also alerted the neighbouring local government areas.”

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