By Azoma Chikwe
Chief Executve Officer of Nigerian Centre for Disease Contrl(NCDC), Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, has cheery news for Nigeria: meningitis outbreak, which has killed 1,166 since 2016, is over.
Ihekweazu stated that in the last four weeks, no local government area has reached outbreak alert threshold.
“By June 16, 2017, when the Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) was stepped down, a total of 14,518 suspected cases of meningitis were reported from 25 states, with 1,166 deaths, giving a case fatality rate of eight per cent.
“The NCDC, National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA) and partner organisations worked assiduously to reduce the impact of the outbreak on affected communities. The NCDC established a national EOC which coordinated the national outbreak response.
“This included the deployment of Rapid Response Teams (RRT) to the most affected States to strengthen surveillance, case management, laboratory capacity acutive nd risk communication.
“The planning process to prevent future outbreaks and ensuring better preparedness for the next epidemic season has begun. Laboratory capacity has been improved with the recent operationalisation of the new National Reference Laboratory in Gaduwa, Abuja with support from the Federal Ministry of Health, the US CDC and the World Health Organisation.
“NCDC is also coordinating a network of laboratories across the country to improve case confirmation capacity.
“National guidelines towards responding to future outbreaks are being developed together with on-going continuous awareness campaigns, keeping the general public informed.
“Workshops to improve preparedness are also being organised.
“Reactive vaccination campaigns led by the NPHCDA were successfully conducted in Zamfara, Sokoto, Yobe and Katsina States. The state governments were fully engaged in conducting these campaigns to ensure that the vaccines reached the most at-risk population.
“While NCDC has stepped down the emergency response, the work never stops – we will continue to work 24/7 to ensure the protection of all Nigerians against infectious disease threats.
“We recognise our leadership, the ministers of Health and the leadership of the NPHCDA for the joint support during the outbreak.
“We are very grateful to the Government of Zamfara and Sokoto states for their excellent leadership during the outbreak.
“We also thank our partners including the World Health Organisation, Africa Centre for Disease Control, as well as the US Centers for Disease Controland its implementing partners – African Field Epidemiology Network and the University of Maryland Baltimore – for their generous support in the implementation of outbreak response activities.”