Nigeria: Vaccines Allegedly Stolen By Govt Officials As Death Toll Rises To 745. As Cerebro Spinal Meningitis (CSM) outbreak spreads in Nigeria thousands vaccines have disappeared in Zamfara state.
The vaccines meant for over 1,000 victims in the state, and for preventing many more has been reportedly stolen by state government officials and are being resold to helpless residents. No fewer than 3 local government chairmen on Tuesday complained that vaccines for their area has been diverted.
And while the disease spilled across the state, a senior outbreak expert at the World Health Organization acknowledged the governor’s response had “lagged” for months.
Much like Yari’s fumbled response to security issues in the state, the governor’s efforts to stop the spread of the disease have been undermined by chronic mismanagement, according to officials of the state due to his absence in the state.
Some health officials now estimate they will be short about 500,000 vaccines amid the worst meningitis outbreak in decades.
In an emailed statement, a group ‘Healthy Living’ based in Kaduna said the missing doses of vaccines were “not unexpected” in such a mass vaccination campaign.
As the disease tore through the state, officials made a series of avoidable mistakes that stalled control efforts, including sending vaccines without syringes.
Two officials of Bungudu Local Council in Zamfara have been ordered to produce the missing Meningitis vaccines allocated to the area or be sanctioned.The affected officials are the local council’s Director of Health, Rabiu Dansadau and the Councillor of Health, Sanusi Umar.
The Chairman of the State Sub-Committee for the Procurement, Management and Distribution of Meningitis drugs and vaccines, Alhaji Aliyu Kagara said on Monday in Bungudu that the committee had discovered massive diversion of the vaccines meant for the area.
He said that a total of 400 I.V injections meningitis vaccines was allocated to the area, but only 30 of the vaccines were accounted for.
“When the committee visited the local government, it discovered that 30 persons were treated and there was no trace of the remaining 370 vaccines. The two officials must return the drugs and offer convincing explanation of what happened.”
The chairman said that, so far, the affected officials have failed to give satisfactory explanation as to the whereabouts of the remaining drugs.
Governor Abdulaziz Aubakar Yari has already set up a committee under the Secretary to the State Government, Prof. Abdullahi Shinkafi, to investigate the matter, while the State House of Assembly has also set up its own investigation committee.
Meanwhile the death toll from the meningitis outbreak in Nigeria has reached 745 since November 2016.
This is contained in an update released by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) on Wednesday. It noted that 8,057 suspected cases of meningitis have been reported across the country so far. Of this figure, 7,519 (93 per cent) occurred in five states that had reached outbreak levels for Cerebrospinal Meningitis (CSM) serotype C. The five affected states are Zamfara, Sokoto, Katsina, Kebbi and Niger.
The update said the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) and the NCDC are working assiduously to contain the outbreak.
Both government agencies noted that they have stepped up their activities. These include raising awareness of the outbreak in communities, implementing enhanced surveillance to quickly detect and report new cases, vaccinating populations at the highest risk and treating persons diagnosed with the disease, as well as outbreak preparation in local government areas and states at risk of the outbreak.
Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of NCDC, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu said to increase awareness of the outbreak and coordinate response across states, the Northern Traditional Leaders Committee on Primary Health Care (NTLCPHC) convened a meeting of governors and traditional leaders from all northern Nigerian states.
The meeting, held in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH) and its agencies, and international partners focused on strategies to end the outbreak. Ihekweazu said enhanced surveillance activities activated by several states in partnership with NCDC and partners have contributed to increased case finding and more timely reporting and that NCDC Rapid Response teams of trained doctors and scientists continue to provide on-site outbreak investigation and control support to affected states.