Nigeria’s meningitis outbreak ends as surveillance continues

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(Quick News Africa)- With decline in meningitis cases, the 2016/2017 meningitis outbreak in Nigeria has been declared over.

Announcing the cessation of the epidemic, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) also stated that the Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) responding to the epidemic has been stepped down.

“The outbreak has been in constant decline for eight weeks and the affected states have recorded much fewer new cases, and in the last four weeks, no local government area has reached outbreak alert threshold,” said NCDC in a statement signed by Boboye Onduku, its technical adviser on communication.

However, “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,” said Chikwe Ihekweazu, who is the chief executive officer of NCDC.

By the 16th of June 2017 when the 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 8 percent.

The NCDC, the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA) and partner organizations worked to reduce the impact of the outbreak on affected communities.

The NCDC established a National Emergency Operations Centre (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 and risk communication.

Also, the planning process to prevent future outbreaks and ensure better preparedness for the next epidemic season has commenced.

Laboratory capacity has been improved with the recent operationalization of the new National Reference Laboratory in Gaduwa, Abuja, with support from the federal ministry of health, the United States Centres for Disease Control and the World Health Organization (WHO).

NCDC is also coordinating a network of laboratories across the country to improve case confirmation capacity.

Furthermore, National guidelines towards responding to future outbreaks are being developed together with ongoing continuous awareness campaigns, keeping the general public informed. Workshops to improve preparedness are also being organized.

state governments were fully engaged in conducting these campaigns to ensure that the vaccines reached the most at-risk population and reactive vaccination campaigns led by NPHCDA were successfully conducted in Zamfara, Sokoto, Yobe and Katsina States.

He also the various development  partners, including WHO, the Africa Centre for Disease Control, as well as the US CDC and its implementing partners, such as the African Field Epidemiology Network and the University of Maryland, Baltimore for their generous support in the implementation of outbreak response activities.

 

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