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Nigeria introduces Meningitis A Conjugate Vaccine into Routine Expanded Programme on Immunization Schedule

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Nigeria has introduced the Meningitis A Conjugate Vaccine into the routine Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI) schedule. 

Speaking during the flag-off ceremony at the Area 2 Primary Healthcare Centre (PHC) on 09 August, 2019, the Executive Director (ED) of National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr Faisal Shuaib said, “Men A remains a major global challenge.” According to the ED,”25 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) fall within the meningitis belt; putting 26.7 Nigerians at risk of meningitis”.

Further describing the prevalence of the disease in the country, he said, “In 2018, there were 4,516 reported cases in Nigeria, 318 serious cases and 364 deaths. I therefore call on all mothers to ensure their children are vaccinated from this disease.”

Meningococcal meningitis is the bacterial form of meningitis; a devastating disease associated with high fatality (up to 50% when untreated) and high frequency (more than 10%) of severe complications. Over 10,000 cases of meningitis occur annually in Nigeria; in 2017 alone, 14,766 cases were reported with 1,207 deaths. Vaccines are however available for prevention and control of meningitis outbreaks.

“Meningitis has been a scourge across Africa’s meningitis belt for generations, however this vaccine has made a massive difference in bringing this disease under control,” said Anuradha Gupta, Deputy CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. “This further expansion in Nigeria’s immunization programme has the potential to save hundreds of lives every year across Nigeria and shows the government’s commitment to protecting every child in the country against deadly, preventable diseases.”

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The meningococcal A conjugate vaccine for Nigeria, procured with funding from Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, is part of its wider commitment to boosting Nigeria’s low immunization coverage and to stem further fatalities arising from the vaccine preventable disease.

In his remarks at the flag off ceremony, WHO Officer in Charge (OiC) for Nigeria, Dr Clement Peter congratulated the Government of Nigeria for the important milestone of the introduction of Meningitis A vaccine, which is in line with WHO recommendations.

“The vaccine is safe and effective and will protect Nigerian children from a dreadful disease. I seize this opportunity to encourage parents and caregivers to visit health facilities and outreach sites to have their children vaccinated. No child should be denied the opportunity to receive lifesaving vaccines for a healthy and productive future, to build a thriving nation,” he affirmed.

In their separate goodwill messages, representatives of Permanent Secretaries of FCT and Federal Ministry of Health, as well His Royal Highness, Alhaji Idris Musa, the paramount traditional ruler of FCT, pleaded with community members to benefit from immunization services and admonished health workers to treat caregivers respectfully and build enduring relationships with the communities they serve to ensure smooth delivery of laudable programmes.

They all appreciated the World Health Organization (WHO) and partners for being on ground to support vaccination activities at points of delivery. Other partners at the epoch-making event included UNICEF, AFENET, USAID, Red Cross Society of Nigeria and Vaccine Network for Disease Control.

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Meningitis is an infection of the thin lining that surrounds the brain and spinal cord called the meninges. Viral and bacterial infections are the most common cause but bacterial meningitis is much more serious due to its rapid onset and poses a significant risk of death. Meningitis A vaccine targets type A meningitis and WHO is committed to work with the government to switch to the Meningitis A,C,W,X,Y formulation in a few years’ when the vaccine is available in the quantities required to ensure protection from all other strains of the disease is achieved.

WHO emphasizes the importance of completing mass vaccination campaigns in individuals aged 01-29 years old in all high risk countries followed by introduction of meningococcal A conjugate vaccine into the routine childhood programme within 01-05 years following the campaign completion.

WHO also recommends a one-time catch up campaign for children born after the initial mass vaccination and who would not be in the age range targeted by the routine immunization programme.

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Makinde lauds IUFMP initiative , promises to end flooding in Oyo

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Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo state has expressed the readiness of his government to take proactive measures that would help put an end to flooding in the State.

Governor Makinde, who was represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Mrs. Olubamiwo Adeosun, made the pledge at the closing ceremony of the workshop on Ibadan flood forecast, early warning and implementation support programme held in the state capital, on Wednesday.

The Governor assured that his government would readily support the implementation of the Ibadan Urban Flood Management and other ongoing intervention projects in the state.

Contained in a statement signed by the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mr. Taiwo Adisa, the Governor, commended the IUFMP on the flood forecast initiative, which he said: “will furnish our people with prior alerts about impending flood disasters”.

He stressed  that it was that a scientific initiative that would alert the people of the possibility of a looming flood disaster was being launched.

Governor Makinde, also described the Ibadan Urban Flood Management Project (lUFMP) as a people-oriented project set up to change the narrative of incessant and ravaging flood disasters, adding that the project was in consonance with his campaign promises.

The statement added that the Governor had at earlier meetings with the IUFMP team given assurances that Government would take necessary steps to protect the people while charging that the stakeholders on the project to ensure that all hands were on deck to achieve the effective implementation of the initiative.

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“Beyond building bridges, culverts, drain lines, and access roads which are on their own crucial towards ensuring the good life, we as a government also have a duty to give full support to the implementation of the IUFMP initiative that will furnish our people with prior alerts about impending flood disasters.

“This will enable our people to take proactive steps for the preservation of lives and properties. This is a step in the right direction and it will continue to enjoy maximum support of the State Government.

“It is pertinent that we are able to x-ray the factors that can ultimately protect our people from vulnerability to flooding, through adequate knowledge building and information flow on impending flooding and looming dangers. Such information, readily disseminated well ahead of time will save lives.
“I have been told that this workshop, which started yesterday is a two-day programme aimed at sensitising State officials, key stakeholder-agencies and representatives of communities situated along with flood-prone areas, while also informing high-level office-holders about the project,” the Governor said.
Governor Makinde further stated that the State would be expecting value for its investment in the project, which he noted should be in terms of “immediate gains in the area of safety of lives and properties, as well as measurable capacity building for our homegrown technocrats and public servants who would be required to sustain the initiative, post-IUFMP.”

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Governor Makinde, however called on the operators of the project to ensure that the advantages of the project were transferred to other communities in the state through a form of knowledge transfer.

“As I have assured officials of the IUFMP before now, our government will continue to provide enabling environment for the success of other intervention works being carried out at different locations/communities within Ibadan. We expect that all such projects are delivered on schedule to enable our people reap the benefits,” the Governor submitted.

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Quit Flood-prone Areas, Kaduna Govt. Warns Residents

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Kaduna State Government through its   Ministry of Environment and Emergency Management Agency (KASEMA) has warned residents living around flood prone areas across the state  to urgently evacuate their homes.

“As the rains intensify, there’s a likelihood of flooding to occur”, the Agency hinted.

In  2018 , over 500 houses were submerged in flood and many residents were displaced  in areas like Going Gora,  Kamazo,  Karatudu,  kigo Road,  Ungwar Rimi,   Rafin Guza,  Romi and Zaria  among others, as a result of their refusal to heed to early warnings by emergency agencies.

The State Commissioner for Environment, Ibrahim Husseini, emphasized that  the warnings are important in order to avoid a recurrence of such unfortunate incidents.

This comes days after several persons were killed in Niger State, after some communities were ravaged by flood.

Also, hundreds were displaced in Jigawa State after some communities were hit by flood.

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Nigeria moves to end communicable diseases among people who use drugs

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“I have been injecting drugs for a long time and we share syringes,” says Ali who lives in the suburb of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and recently diagnosed to be co-infected with Tuberculosis (TB) and HIV. Consequent to difficulties of life in the streets, Ali was exposed to drug use as early as age 10 and started using injectable drugs when he was 14. “I wish I can stop now though, but It is very difficult” he laments. 

In response to the plight of people like Ali, the Nigerian Government is making moves to end communicable diseases among people who use drugs.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), as of 2017 estimated that 271 million people globally were said to use drugs of which 11.3 million are injectable (Source: UN World Drug report 2019). In addition to associated mortality, injecting drug use has been linked with transmission of communicable diseases including HIV, Hepatitis C, Tuberculosis and a host of other blood-borne infections. People who inject drugs (PWID) account for 10% of HIV infections and about 23% of new Hepatitis C infections, while Tuberculosis is a leading AIDS-defining illness and cause of mortality among people living with HIV who inject drugs (Source: WHO – HIV Topics / WHO Hepatitis C factsheet).

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“Nigeria, with her huge population continues to experience an untold effect of drug use especially among youth,” say Mr Mashood Lawal Director Food and Drugs, Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH).

In addition, Government is making concerted efforts to address communicable diseases associated with drug use. This is being achieved through programming for key population groups within various national programmes focusing mainly on behavioral change and preventive interventions, including attempts at biomedical support and dilatory effects.

An independent report commissioned by the Global Fund in 2016 indicates a burgeoning need for a full package of interventions for these population group as defined by WHO. Also the findings of the national drug use survey conducted in 2018, revealed that 14.4% of the general population use drugs, a rate higher than the global average of 5.6%. The report further reveals that there are more people who inject drugs than previously estimated and of concern are injecting practices with increased risk of HIV and Viral Hepatitis transmission (UNODC-National Drug Use Survey Report,2018 ). This evidence calls for a holistic health sector driven approach for curbing the menace of drug use.

With this compelling evidence, WHO advocated to FMoH for the need to define a health response for the drug control. Hence, the National Programme on Drug Demand and Harm Reduction (NDDHR) which is closely linked to the Presidential Advisory Committee on the Elimination of Drug Abuse (PACEDA) was established in May,2019 with the mandate of coordinating the health sector response to drug use. Similarly, a National technical working group (TWG) was inaugurated to support the take-off of the programme.

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“Since inception of the programme, WHO has been at the forefront, leading other partners including the UN Organization for Drug Control, Global Fund and national stakeholders to support the government to develop a policy statement and strategy which will be incorporated into the National Drug Control Master Plan,” states Dr Rex Mpazanje, Communicable/Non communicable diseases cluster lead for WHO Nigeria.

“Similarly, a road map and National guideline for the implementation of a needle and syringe program (NSP) geared towards the elimination of communicable among PWID was developed. The NSP which is being funded through the Global Fund with technical support from WHO is expected to be piloted in 3 states across the country in the coming months,” he added.

Beyond communicable diseases, WHO is concerned with other health and social burdens associated with drug use. Therefore, efforts will continue to be made to enhance public health actions by providing the required leadership, strengthening partnerships and collaboration between government and health institutions towards the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals 2030 (SDG 2030).

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