From: Ali Abare, Gombe
Gombe State has recorded 15 deaths and 864 suspected cases of measles as from January this year to date.
Cluster Consultant with the World Health Organisation (WHO), Dr. Raymond Dankoli, disclosed this in a meeting with journalists, on Thursday.
Dankoli explained that the state recorded outbreak of the disease across 7 local government areas with Gombe Local Government Area having the highest suspected measles infection with 107 reported cases.
The meeting, organised by the state Primary Health Care Development Agency (PHCDA), was part of a sensitisation campaign ahead of the 2017 Measles Campaign Vaccination scheduled for November 30 to December 15.
Dankoli also said unlike similar a exercise held in 2015 which failed to record the desired outcome, the agency, having learnt from the past, is poised to conduct a successful exercise this time around with a view to attaining 95 percent coverage.
He disclosed that already, the agency has taken proactive steps in response to the disease outbreak by making available drugs for treating the disease, with trained staff carrying out surveillance and to report new cases for prompt action.
Dankoli said this year’s vaccination exercise will target children from 9-59 months, stressing that every child is expected to receive treatment irrespective of the child’s immunisation status.
“The 2015 experience was the worst. We want to make that of 2017 better. All measles death are preventable, ” he said.
He said it has become necessary to partner with the media in order to sensitise the public as the success of the campaign depends on the number of children that turn out to be vaccinated.
Dankoli used the opportunity to speak on the controversy surrounding previous exercises, particularly against the backdrop of orchestrated campaigns to discourage citizens from immunisation, following the recent outbreak of monkey pox.
He explained further that while the agency is reaching out to relevant stakeholders such as traditional, religious and community leaders towards enlightening the citizens, Dankoli assured that the agency would not fold it’s arms to allow harmful products to be administered to the people.
The WHO consultant urged parents to make available their wards for vaccination once the exercise commences, stressing that donor agencies have spent billions of naira to supply the vaccines.
Earlier in an opening remark, Musa Ibrahim, Deputy Director of Immunisation at the GSPHCDA, explained that following the poor turnout for the exercise in 2015, the agency had pursued aggressively an advocacy and dialogue to find out why communities are refusing vaccination.
While appreciating the state government for the responding promptly by being the first state in the country to release it’s counterparts funding in the fight against measles, Ibrahim disclosed that materials for the vaccination exercise have started arriving the state.
He said for proper supervision, the exercise would be staggered across the state.
Ibrahim however urged parents to retain and keep safe vaccination cards to be issued during the exercise which would be used for the purpose of survey.