Meningitis: How federal government nonchalant attitude cost the lives of over 800 people

Meningitis: How federal government nonchalant attitude cost the lives of over 800 people

There are reports that the federal government's alleged negligence of initial warnings by health organisation was what led to massive lost of lives due to meningitis outbreak.

Before the first case of Meningitis was recorded in Zamfara State, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) the agency in charge of primary health care in Nigeria, had issued stern warnings to the government.

The two agencies reportedly warned of likely Meningitis C outbreak in Nigeria due to previous occurrences and the epidemiological cycle of the disease.

Premium Times reports that in July 2015, WHO predicted an outbreak of Meningitis C in Nigeria and some other African countries in 2016 and called for step-up in the production of vaccines to contain the disease before the 2016 meningitis season would start in January.

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Unfortunately, the Nigeria Federal Ministry of Health did not start procurement of the vaccines until after deaths from the disease were reported in Zamfara and Sokoto.

Report says World Health Organisation had warned the federal government of Nigeria of impending Meningitis outbreak.

Report says World Health Organisation had warned the federal government of Nigeria of impending Meningitis outbreak.

About 400 deaths were recorded in Zamfara alone.

When the disease started rampaging, the Health Minister, Isaac Adewole said the government could not immediately start the administration of vaccine to the affected states because it did not have vaccines for the type C meningitis in stock.

Explaining why the country did not act on the early warnings ahead of the outbreak, the Minister of State for Health, Osagie Ehanire, said the medicine and vaccines are “extremely expensive” and have a short shelf life.

He said: “The vaccines are expensive to make and if acquired and stored without use, they could expire and there is just a limited stock of the type C vaccine as it is not much in demand. This outbreak has led to a greater demand."

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