Measles has remained endemic despite preventable vaccine – EPI Coordinator

By Christiana Gokyo, Jos

Measles, as a highly contagious disease, has remained endemic – with devastating effect, causing high morbidity and mortality rates among young children in the developing countries, despite vaccine preventable.

State Coordinator for Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI) of the World Health Organization in the State, Mr. Williams Bassi Wadzingi, disclosed this on Wednesday in Jos, during the official flag-off of the National Measles Vaccination Campaign in Jos.

Wadzingi revealed that Nigeria accounts for the highest burden of measles, globally, with 3.3 million immunized children, followed by India – with 2.9 million children.

He said, this is due to the persistently-low routine immunization coverage, while indicating that  supplemental immunization campaign are conducted to provide a second opportunity to reach immunized children.

Mr. Wadzingi explained that, surveillance data shows that, measles incidence among children under five years’ cases 131,732 were recorded between January, 2012, and September, 2016.

While in Plateau State in 2017,560 suspected cases of measles were reported, with 237 blood samples taken, 25 confirmed cases and 9 deaths and with a case of fatality rate (CFR) of 1.61 percent.

He further explained that, in 2,000, measles accounted for approximately for 777,000 deaths worldwide, of which around 60 percent occurred in sub-Saharan Africa, with Nigeria in particular accounting for a substantial part of the burden.

According to him, it was estimated that, of 80 million children born annually in the developed world, about 5 million die and about same number end up crippled, blind, mentally retarded or otherwise disabled because of vaccines preventable.

He said EPI desires to achieve 95 percent service delivery coverage at ward, local government and state levels during the campaign and through routine immunization to build up population immunity sustainably.

He revealed that, the 2017/2018 measles vaccination campaigns will be staggered within the states and across the geo-political zones during February, 2018, to 10 local government councils.

This includes, Jos North, Jos South, Bokkos, Quan’Pan, Kanke, Kanam, Wase, and Langtang South local governments in the first-phase, then Riyom, Barkin-Ladi, Mangu, Pankshin, Mikang, Langtang North, and Shendam for second-phase.

Speaking at the occasion, wife of the state governor, Mrs Regina Lalong, urged stakeholders to do all that is needful for this laudable initiative to achieve its mandate of measles prevention in the State, which is aimed at creating more awareness, in the ongoing mass media sensitization campaign in the State.

She called on all stakeholders to support government in its efforts to protect the vulnerable group (of 9 mouths to 5 years) towards effective eradication of measles in Nigeria.

According to her, “the vaccine is safe, effective and free; prevention is better than cure,” adding that, “during the campaign, it is expected that a total target of over 1 million children will be vaccinated.”

Mrs Lalong noted: “I believe that, with all our collective support, the level of preparedness in the State would be greatly improved,” and called on all community leaders and traditional rulers to mobilize in their various areas of influence to achieve total coverage of the exercise.

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