The West African Health Organisation (WAHO), in its efforts to contribute to capacity building of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) member states in the area of preparedness and response to epidemics, is supporting the establishment of national emergency management mechanisms for public health emergencies.
To test these mechanisms and procedures in place for the management of major public health events in the ECOWAS region, WAHO is organising a Yellow Fever Simulation Exercise (SIMEX) in Lagos in collaboration with the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).
According to the Communication Officer, Harvey de Hardt-Kaffils, the purpose of the SIMEX was to provide various partner institutions with a national and regional coordination framework for a multi-sectoral response to a public health emergency.
He said: “This exercise will focus on an actual and large-scale simulation of an epidemic of yellow fever. In addition to checking the viability and compatibility of existing mechanisms in their implementation, this SIMEX will not only enhance awareness among epidemic control managers but also enhance their ability to effectively and timely respond to any Yellow Fever epidemics.
“The focus on yellow fever has arisen because of the re-emergence of the disease in Nigeria after many years. Since September 2017, Nigeria has been facing yellow fever outbreaks that increasingly threaten urban areas. At least, 358 suspected cases have been recorded in 16 states, where the disease has already led to 45 deaths.”
He noted that government has already taken the lead in finding a lasting solution to the problem.
According to him, “a total of 25 million people are scheduled to be vaccinated in a campaign, which has already begun in three states: Zamfara in the North-East, Kogi and and Kwara in North Central; and health workers have already been mobilised across the country. The country is also strengthening its routine immunisation coverage.”