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WHO aids in combating CSM outbreak in Yobe

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By Usman Oladimeji

An expert team was deployed to prevent further transmission of the disease.

Following a worrying outbreak of Cerebrospinal meningitis (CSM) in Yobe State, the World Health Organization (WHO) has swiftly deployed their team of experts to assist local health officials in preventing further transmission of the disease. An urgent public health concern arises from Cerebrospinal Meningitis, a life-threatening condition that causes swelling of the protective membranes around the brain and spinal cord. This issue is especially concerning in a region facing both the disease and a prolonged humanitarian emergency.

In responding to the pressing situation, WHO has taken action by sending 107 Northeast Humanitarian Health Emergency Experts and Polio Eradication Initiative (PEI) Officers to Yobe state. With the aim of aiding local health authorities in containing the outbreak and minimizing its effects. Dr. Lawan Muhammad Gana, the Commissioner for Health in Yobe state, expressed gratitude towards the World Health Organization for their exceptional leadership in spearheading health initiatives and effectively coordinating efforts to control the spread of the outbreak.

Specialized WHO team is working with the regional health officials.

The team of experts sent by WHO to aid the local health authorities in addressing the CSM outbreak is crucial and arriving at the right time. Given the expertise available, we are confident that we will be able to control the outbreak soon and prevent similar incidents from happening again. Dr. Gana emphasized the importance of collaboration to implement unique approaches in order to manage the outbreak effectively, ultimately safeguarding the lives of those most at risk in the state.

A recent report shows that Yobe state documented around 1,186 possible instances, 60 verified cases, and 38 fatalities within the Potiskum, Nangere, Fune, Fika, Gujba, Damaturu, Gulani, and Machina Local Government Areas. The specialized team from WHO is working closely with the regional health officials to enhance their work in monitoring diseases, making diagnoses, and implementing response plans. The Yobe State Public Health Emergency Operation Centre (EOC) is now equipped with an Incident Management System, which encompasses Coordination, Health Information, Risk Assessment, Case Management, Laboratory, Vaccination, Logistics, and Risk Communication and Community Engagement thanks to WHO’s efforts.

587,870 doses of Men5CV have been secured with WHO’s aid.

Furthermore, WHO has helped secure the authorization and distribution of 587,870 doses of Men5CV (ACYWX conjugate vaccine) through the International Coordinating Group (ICG). These doses will be administered to individuals aged 1-29 in Potiskum, Nangare, and Fika LGAs who are at risk. Dr. Aurelien Pekezou Tchoffo, the Officer in Charge for WHO Nigeria, emphasized the importance of partnering with both Federal and State Ministries of Health to effectively coordinate efforts in containing disease outbreaks like CSM. This collaboration will also focus on ensuring continued access to primary healthcare services.

Dr. Kumshida Yakubu Balami, the acting emergency manager for WHO in the Northeast, announced a collaborative effort between Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO), USAID’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (BHA), and the Ministry of Health. This partnership aims to enhance coordination among different organizations, investigate the outbreak in detail, improve the skills of frontline healthcare workers through mentorship, develop a vaccination micro-plan, supply medical consumables, and increase access to primary healthcare services for underserved populations and those in hard-to-reach areas.

Related Article: Meningitis kills 20 students in Nigeria

Reportedly, 206 individuals were placed under quarantine by the Yobe State government, in early March after an outbreak of cerebrospinal meningitis in three local government areas, which led to the tragic deaths of 20 students. Meanwhile, the Commissioner for Health in Gombe State, Dr. Habu Dahiru, reported that the state had mourned the loss of six individuals to the same disease. Similarly in April 2023, the deadly outbreak claimed the lives of numerous individuals in the Degubi community located in the Fika Local Government Area of the state.

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