States in the North East recorded no fewer than 21,011 cases of measles with 100 deaths in the past few months.
A survey by News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) indicated that while cases were recorded in Bauchi, Borno, Yobe and Gombe states, officials in Adamawa and Jigawa said no such cases were recorded in their states.
In Borno, where the highest number of cases was recorded, officials said security challenges in the state made it difficult to address the situation.
The Director of Borno State Primary Healthcare Development Agency, Sule Mele, said 18,204 measles cases were recorded in the state from January till date, with 93 deaths, mostly children.
He attributed the outbreak of the disease to inability of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) to access healthcare services due to the ongoing
conflict between security forces and Boko Haram insurgents.
Mr Mele, a medical doctor, noted that there was high prevalence of the disease in ‘trapped’ communities due to the lack of access to vaccination.
He added that the lack of access to crisis-prone areas was a major obstacle militating against effective response to the disease.
According to him, the primary healthcare agency has, however, scaled up activities to enhance surveillance, case management, laboratory services, social mobilisation and vaccination in some affected areas in spite of the challenges.
He said “We were able to conduct reactive vaccination for children between the ages of nine and 18 months in the affected areas.
“Arrangements are on for the conduct of a country-wide measles response to enhance coverage of the routine immunisation in communities and IDPs’ camps.’’
Yobe, another flashpoint of conflicts between security agents and the
insurgents, recorded 2,675 cases of measles, with seven deaths, the acting Disease Surveillance and Notification Officer (DSNO), Haruna Umaru, in the state said.
He said that “from January 2019 till June 2019, we received reports of 2,675 cases of measles, with seven deaths from the 17 local government areas in the state.
He, however, added that the situation had been controlled by the Rapid Response Teams.
Mr. Umaru said whenever there was report of communicable disease in the state, the Rapid Response Teams swung into action.
On its part, the Bauchi State Government said it recorded two cases of measles in some communities sharing border with Yobe State.
However, Bakoji Ahmed, the State Immunisation Officer (SIO) told NAN in Bauchi that those infected were from Yobe.
He added that the communities affected are in Yobe but share border withDambam Local Government Area of Bauchi State.
The only reason we accepted them is because they receive healthcare services and immunisation in Bauchi State.’’
The officer explained that the state government was not taking chances as it had intensified monitoring through its Emergency Operations Centres (EOC).