Nigeria takes delivery of additional anti-meningitis vaccines 

Cyril Okonkwo, Abuja

Nigeria has taken delivery of additional vaccines to tackle the outbreak of cerebrospinal meningitis in some parts of the country.

Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole, stated this while briefing State House correspondents on the outcome of Wednesday’s meeting of the Federal Executive Council.

He said all the 823, 000 doses of anti-cerebrospinal meningitis vaccines required for the treatment of the disease have been received in Nigeria.

According to him, the initial number of doses received was 500,000, which was moved to Zamfara State in North West Nigeria, where the recent outbreak of meningitis in the country started.

He said 150, 000 doses were received on Sunday morning while the remaining 173,000 doses were received on Tuesday.

Vaccination to commence in Sokoto State

Prof. Adewole said with the delivery of the last batches of the doses,  would commence in Sokoto State, North West Nigeria on Thursday.

He said “apart from the ongoing vaccination exercise, we are also dispatching two medical teams to two states, Sokoto and Zamfara to help with active case findings. We want to do house-to-house search.  Those who have meningitis, we want to bring them out so we can treat them promptly.”

Professor Adewole said the federal government would send teams of medical doctors, nurses, pharmacists and a laboratory technician to each local government in the states.

He said each team would be supported by the state governments.

According to the Minister, the state governors have promised to give logistics support to the medical teams.

“We want to bring them to health facilities; we want to offer them treatment,” Professor Adewole said, pointing out that meningitis is easily treated immediately it has been diagnosed.

Meningitis outbreak declines

The minister said that there is noticeable decline in the outbreak of the disease.

“This is week 16.  It got to a peak at week 14. It has started dropping. Moreso, about two weeks ago, the rain started in these areas. With the onset of rain we expect that the cases will drop.”

Vaccine laboratory to be resuscitated

The Minister of Health also said he briefed the council on the state of the Federal Vaccine Production Laboratory in Yaba, South West Nigeria.

The laboratory, which was established in 1940, was at a time producing vaccines such as anti-rabbis, smallpox and yellow fever.

It also exported vaccines to some other West Africa countries but was closed down in 1991 ostensibly for upgrade.

Professor Adewole said plans are underway to resuscitate the laboratory.

“What we have decided to do is to set up a joint company with May & Barker to commence production at the Federal Vaccine Production Company in Yaba,” Professor Adewole said, explaining that a memo would be presented to the Federal Executive Council for that purpose.

He noted that government was talking with other companies to ensure the local production of vaccines in Nigeria.