WHO deploys 190 Polio personnel to Sokoto State

WHO Country Representative to Nigeria Dr Wondimagegnehu Alemu said PEI officers would be working with the Sokoto team at the Polio Emergency.

Nigeria's suspected meningitis outbreak has mostly affected children in five northern states

WHO Country Representative to Nigeria Dr Wondimagegnehu Alemu said this in a statement in Abuja on Thursday.

Alemu said PEI officers, drawn from the Nigeria country office and field offices, would be working with the Sokoto team at the Polio Emergency Operating Centre (EOC) to plan for the response to the outbreak.

He said in the last two months, Nigeria had been experiencing widespread epidemic of meningitis, mainly caused by Neisseria meningitidis type C serotypes.

According to Alemu, states mostly affected by the epidemic are; Zamfara, Sokoto, Kastina, Kebbi, Yobe and Niger.

He said with the formidable workforce of the organisation, it had facilitated the immediate creation of an Incident Management System at the EOC.

“Several planning meetings, chaired by the Sokoto EOC Polio incident Manager with Commissioner for Health in attendance, culminated in the development of a micro plan that targeted 770,000 susceptible young persons aged 1 to 21.

“The target population informed the request and release of 820,000 doses of vaccines for reactive vaccination in the state by the International Coordinating Group (ICG) on Vaccine Provision through WHO.

“With the support of WHO, the state conducted detailed outbreak investigations in the most affected local governments of Gudu, Dange Shuni, Sokoto South, Sokoto North, Rabah and Tureta.

“Over 3,687 of suspected meningitis were reported in all the 23 local government areas of Sokoto State as at May 1, 2017 with more than 80 per cent of the cases in the 1 to 20 years cohort,’’ he said.

Alemu further said more than 200 deaths had so far been recorded from 10 local government areas of the state.

He said one of the cardinal strategies employed by the organisation to rapidly curtail the outbreak of the disease was the involvement of different cadres of WHO polio personnel.

“These include cluster consultants, Local Government Areas facilitators and Field Volunteers."

According to Alemu, other strategies include planning and coordination of training, vaccine management and supervision of meningitis C pre-implementations activities with the state team and other partners.

He said with four days into the reactive vaccination, 560,000 of the targeted 740,000 had been vaccinated, representing 76 per cent coverage.

Alemu said the vaccination would be extended by two days of mopping in wards where the personnel had not achieved 90 per cent coverage.

He said the support to the Federal Government in the eradication of polio was made possible with funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, European Union and the Government of Germany through KfW.

Others he said, were; Global Affairs Canada, USAID, Community Chest Korea through the Korea Foundation for International Healthcare (KOFIH)), DFID (UK), Rotary International and the World Bank.

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