In what now looks like an annual ritual, Nigeria has been besieged with another epidemic, this time of meningitis.
The health challenge which has caused alarm in the public space has swept through as many 90 Local Governments across 16 states of the Federation, including Lagos.
According to a public advisory released by the Federal Ministry of Health:
Historically, the worst CSM epidemics experienced in Nigeria occurred in 1996 when about 109,580 cases and 11,717 deaths were recorded, followed by the one in 2003 (4,130 cases and 401 deaths) then in 2008 (9,086 cases and 562 deaths) and in 2009, when 9086 cases and 562 deaths were recorded.
These historical records and past experiences influenced Health Authorities in Africa (especially countries within the African Meningitis Belt), the World health Organization and Many Development Partners to roll out a strategic intervention for the effective prevention of such epidemics. This gave birth the mass vaccination campaign using a new conjugate vaccine the MenAfriVac-A in about 16 out of the 26 Vulnerable countries (including Nigeria). It resulted in a reduction of over 94% incidence of the disease in most countries, thus significantly reducing the risk of type A.
The BBC reports that the Nigerian Government is currently grappling with cost issues in tackling the menace, with vaccines costing as much as $50. It may cost up to $1 billion to effectively vaccinate 22 million persons at risk of been infected.
The advisory by the Ministry states that the Government has acquired a stock of between 500,000 – 800,000 vaccines. The full report of the steps taken by the Ministry can be found here.