The delayed immunization of the citizens against an infection that is already established is ineffective based on the epidemiology of the disease.
Medical doctors under the aegis of the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) have condemned the Federal Government’s handling of the Cerebrospinal Meningitis (CSM) epidemic, which has affected 17 states and claimed no fewer than 330 lives.
President of NMA, Prof. Mike O. Ogirima, told journalists yesterday at a press conference in Abuja that the association condemned in strong terms the reactive measures by the government on the epidemic.
“The delayed immunization of the citizens against an infection that is already established is ineffective based on the epidemiology of the disease. For immunization to be effective, it must have been administered around three months before the period of clinical manifestation due to the latent period,” he said.
Ogirima who spoke while marking the World Health Day (WHD) lamented the rate at which CSM epidemic was ravaging some parts of the country even as he commiserated with the affected families and governors of the states.
He said the NMA was assisting in providing medications to the affected states apart from the massive mobilization of its members to man isolation camps in the affected areas.
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He urged the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and other government agencies to be more proactive in the approach to such emergencies in the country and advised that early release of budgetary provisions for health programmes should be part of the change mantra of the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.
Ogirima added that various epidemiological studies have been conducted in the past on CSM trend in Nigeria and that type C strain of Neisseria meningitides was involved in the past.
He said the country has a pattern of climate change and as such governments should have emergency medical preparedness plans that should be activated routinely to avert disasters.
The NMA also condemned the statement ascribed to Zamfara State Governor Abdulazeez Yari, that CSM was a curse from God for people’s fornication and adultery. It advised that Nigerian leaders should stay with the citizens to understand their plights and avoid unnecessary journeys outside the states they seek to govern.
Ogirima explained that long distance and numerous journeys have been highly associated with Sexually Transmissible Diseases (STDs) and Human Immuno-deficiency Virus (HIV)/Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) infections, but CSM is an infection caused by Neisseria meningitides bacteria and rampant with overcrowding and transmissible through air.
He also recalled that the country was able to produce its vaccines in 1947 to fight the small-pox epidemic, pointing out that what had gone wrong with the Yaba vaccines production laboratory since 1991 was very embarrassing.
“The NMA demands immediate resuscitation of local vaccines production (LVP) at Yaba and expansion of the scope of LVP at the National Veterinary Research Institute, Vom,” he said.
Ogirima said researches as far back as 1975 showed the various epidemics of CSM as to the type of strains involved and it is embarrassing again to note that this epidemic has taken the country unaware.
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He added that pharmaceutical industries should be challenged and supported to produce the country’s consumables and this should be the new order instead of budgeting huge sums of money for importation of vaccines and other consumables.
The Association also frowned at the way Chief Executives of the country’s tertiary hospitals are intimidated with reckless union activities by Joint Health Sector Union (JOHESU) and leadership of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) noting that civility must be encouraged at the teaching hospitals.
Meanwhile, the first case of the disease has been recorded Imo State Senior Registrar, Endocrinology at the Federal Medical Centre (FMC) Owerri, Dr. Chinonso Ekwueme, who spoke in Owerri on Hot FM’s Peoples Assembly yesterday, said a doctor’s son was diagnosed of the ailment but added that he survived after intense treatment was administered on him.
He said the disease was real and urged Imo people across the 27 local councils of the state to be mindful of their pattern of hygiene.