Nigeria, Niger re-commit to strengthening cross border vaccination across the Lake Chad Basin 

Maiduguri,  7 September 2019 - Experts from Nigeria and Niger Republic have reviewed cross-border surveillance strategies with a view to ensuring eligible children along inaccessible borders are protected from vaccine preventable diseases including measles and polio.

The meeting held in Maiduguri (03-05 September 2019) is in line with the purpose and scope of the International Health Regulations (IHR). The meeting objectives include tracking cross-border population movement between Niger Republic and Nigerian inaccessible border settlements through profiling as well as fostering collaboration to synchronized cross border vaccination.

During deliberations, officials from Nigeria and Niger Republic have committed to prevent, protect, control and provide a public health response to the international spread of disease in ways that are commensurate with and restricted to public health risks, without interference to international traffic and trade. 

In his remarks, World Health Organization (WHO) Northeast Zonal Coordinator, Mr. Fadinding Manneh said that cross-border integrated disease surveillance reporting (IDSR) including polio and measles as well as other vaccine preventable diseases (VPDs) activities across the international borders of Nigeria and Niger Republic are yielding enormous evidence-based results. 

“In the last three years, cross-border surveillance and vaccination activities along inaccessible areas of Borno state in Nigeria and Diffa region in Niger Republic have found no less than 261 cases of Acute Flaccid Paralysis (AFP) and have stemmed the tide of wild polio virus in the north-east Nigeria,” said Manneh.

On his part, Deputy Governor of Diffa region, Alhaji Yahya Godi, reiterated the commitment of the government of Niger Republic to implement recommendations on the cross-border integrated disease surveillance and polio vaccination activities. “We are committed to implementing the expert recommendations on cross-border surveillance and vaccination activities to ensure that populations across the borders of Nigeria and Diffa region, Niger Republic are protected from vaccine preventable diseases,” said Alhaji Godi.  

With a view to strengthening integrated surveillance across the two countries, the review meeting also resolved to establish joint cross-border AFP surveillance including cross notification, investigation and joint work plan; synchronized outbreak response and tracking of international borders population movement, engagement of cross-border community informants and data management support from WHO Nigeria. 

Meanwhile, WHO Nigeria in collaboration with the Borno State Primary Healthcare Development Agency has initiated several strategies for improving cross-border surveillance in inaccessible areas (Mobar, Guzamala and Abadam) bordering Nigeria and Diffa region of Niger republic. Through the engagement of 1,180 community-based informants, the programme has found and timely reported 261 AFP cases from inaccessible areas of Borno since April 2018.

Besides, data from the community-based informants have driven and guided vaccination interventions including the implementation of reactive vaccination of more than 3,000 children in response to the outbreak of circulating vaccine derived polio virus along international borders of Borno state and Diffa region, Niger Republic. In addition, these informants have reported measles and cholera outbreaks in the area.  Most recently in July 2019, they reported and responded to measles outbreak in about 12 inaccessible settlements of Guzamala during which over 4,000 children were vaccinated against measles.  

Other innovative interventions like reaching every settlement (RES) and reaching every child (RIC) using civilian task force and government structures have enabled access to over 10,000 settlements (RES: 2,800 and RIC: 7,301) in which 279,994 children were vaccinated against polio between November 2016 and July 2019.   

Participants at the review meeting include the Incidence Manager polio outbreak WHO Niger, Casmir Manengu, Borno state Honorable Commissioner of Health, Dr. Salihu Kwayabura, Government representatives from Diffa province, UNICEF, BMGF, SPHCDA, NPHCDA, Ministry of health for both countries, WHO Nigeria, e-health Africa, Executive Director State Primary Health Care Agency and other Officers of the ministry and the Agency.   

Technical Contact:

Dr Audu Idowu; Email: musaau [at] who.int; Tel: +234 805 734 1370
Dr Chima Onuekwe; Email: Onuekwuec [at] who.int; Tel: +234 803 535 4876

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