Written by Funmi Adewumi (DCL program assistant)
It is often said that ‘health is wealth’, so people should strive for an optimal state of health and wellbeing. Sadly though, humans often face multiple risks of ill health due to injuries, bad nutrition, unhealthy behaviours, genetics, infections and other life stressors. People must therefore be proactive in protecting themselves from these risks to ensure a healthy and wealthy population.
Recently, the Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC) reported a surge in one of such risks, declaring that “a yellow fever outbreak is currently active in Nigeria with confirmed cases in four states – Kwara, Kogi, Kano, and Zamfara. The outbreak started with a confirmed case of yellow fever in Ifelodun Local Government Area (LGA) in Kwara State, on 12th September, 2017. By 21st November 2017, the outbreak had evolved to a total of 276 suspected cases in the country” (see highlights here).
In response to the outbreak, the Federal Ministry of Health and its agencies are leading an effort, in collaboration with partners, to prevent further spread of the disease and limit its impact. As such, they have commenced a reactive vaccination campaign for residents aged 9 months to 45 years in affected and surrounding LGAs.
Dr. Faisal Shuaib, Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) confirmed that NPHCDA began the yellow fever vaccination campaign in Zamfara state on 2nd December, 2017. From 2nd to 11th December this year, eligible residents in Anka, Gusau, Maradun and Maro LGAs will be vaccinated, while from 8th to 17th December, those in Bakura, Birni Magaji, Bukkuyum, Bungudu, Kaura, Namoda, Talata Marafa, and Tsafe LGAs will be reached.
Dr. Shuaib furthermore noted that the campaign will also run in Kogi and Kwara states from 8th to 17th December, 2017. He called on residents of the affected areas to “turn out en masse for the campaign and avail themselves of the vaccines.”
Speaking in the same vein, Dr. Dorothy Nwodo, Director Disease Control and Immunization at NPHCDA, assured the public that the “the yellow fever vaccine is safe, effective and offered for free.” She also appealed to Nigerians to support the campaign while commending the efforts of immunization partners and civil society organizations (CSOs) who are currently helping to create awareness for the campaign. In her words, “working together, we can stop the menace of the spread of this disease, end the outbreak and secure the health of Nigeria as a whole.”
Commending the response and synergy among the various government agencies in dealing with the outbreak, Dr. Chizoba Wonodi, National Convener, Women Advocates for Vaccine Access (WAVA), encouraged WAVA champions and members to join hands with the government to mobilize and advertise the campaign. She urged them in particular, to share the yellow fever infographics widely within their various social media platforms. Commenting on the value of vaccines, she noted that “immunization is an effective way of protecting you and your family. Vaccines protect not only the individual, but also those around them.” She added that “reducing risk of mosquito bites through use of insect repellent and insecticides, wearing proper clothing, sleeping under mosquito-treated nets, cleaning gutters and other mosquito breeding sites can help to prevent yellow fever disease, which is transmitted by mosquito bites”.