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Meningitis Outbreak: Senate Urges Federal Health Ministry To Make Vaccines Free

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The Nigerian Senate has urged the Federal Ministry of Health and the National Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, to make meningitis vaccinations free in public healthcare facilities across the country.

This resolution was passed on Tuesday, April 4, 2017 following a motion titled, Outbreak of Meningitis and the Urgent Need to Curb its Spread & Stop Further Deaths, sponsored by Senator Gbenga Ashafa and sixteen other senators.

The Senate noted the outbreak of Cerebrospinal Meningitis in five States, while also stressing the need for an increase in the budget of the Federal Ministry of Health, in order to ensure that the ministry and its parastatals are able to better fund healthcare activities in the country.

The senators also resolved that meningitis vaccinations should be made free across the country, citing the need for agencies of the federal government to continue to collaborate with the World Health Organization and UNICEF to make the scarce inoculations against meningitis readily available.

Dr. Bukola Saraki, the senate president, noted that with Lassa Fever, cholera and meningitis outbreak in parts of the country, there was a need for increased coordination and funding for regular and specialized health care in the 2017 budget.

He assured Nigerians that the Senate is prepared to promptly pass any supplemental appropriation request to combat disease outbreaks.

Earlier Tuesday, Senate President Saraki has pledged the commitment of the Senate to ending the menace of CerebroSpinal meningitis (CSM) which has claimed the lives of over 300 Nigerians since January 2017.

In a series of tweets on his handle @BukolaSaraki, the Senate’s president pledged that the upper legislative chamber would treat as an emergency, any request for intervention to end the menace.

He said that he had spoken with the Minister of Health Prof. Isaac Adewole and assured him that the Senate would speedily approve any request sent by the executive to end meningitis.

FG Warns of New Strain Of Meningitis

The federal government says it has deployed epidemiologists and vaccines to arrest the outbreak of a new a strain of Cerebro Spinal Meningitis, CSM, in parts of the country.

The minister of health, Isaac Adewole said this on Thursday, March 16, 2017 in Abuja that the new strain, which is not common in Nigeria, was imported from Niger Republic.

Adewole said that the new strain requires a different type of vaccine and a team of epidemiologists have been deployed to address the challenge.

He described the outbreak of meningitis in Sokoto and Zamfara states as an unfortunate incidence, stressing that the ministry is working hard to contain the situation.

“It has become an annual ritual under this administration; we would want to put an end to annual outbreak of meningitis in some of the northern states.

“I have just spoken with the commissioner for health in Zamfara who is appreciative of what the Federal Ministry of Health has been doing through the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control.

“We have sent field epidemiologists; they are actually called disease detectives, to support them at the state level,’’ Adewole said.

The minister said that government have provided vaccines and would continue to do more in terms of whatever was needed with respect to material and technical support to overcome the outbreak.

“What we know in public health is that there is always an outbreak, but what is uncertain is where and the type.

“We want to be ready at any time,’’ he said.

Additional reports by NAN

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