Abuja, 24 May 2019 - As Borno State is affected by an on-going measles outbreak, WHO, UNICEF and Gavi – the Vaccine Alliance completed a campaign that successfully vaccinated more than 1.2 million children between 6 and 71 months with lifesaving vaccine against measles.
Nigeria has been experiencing a large outbreak of measles since the beginning of the year, affecting all 36 States and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). In total, 28,796 suspected cases have been recorded from 660 Local Government Areas (LGAs) with 89 deaths. Borno is the most affected State with 15,237 suspected measles cases reported including 75 associated deaths across 37 internally displaced persons (IDPs) camps in 22 LGAs.
“I have heard that children were falling sick with the disease. The whole camp was very concerned. Several children were becoming sick at the same time, including mine. We spend all our time looking after them and cannot engage in any other activities”, says Yakura Ibrahim, a mother of three children in Hausari ward of Maiduguri in Borno State.
In response to the outbreak, the World Health Organization (WHO), State Ministry of Health, National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), UNICEF and Gavi – the Vaccine Alliance organized a reactive vaccination campaign to provide life-saving vaccines against measles in 2 phases. During the first phase of the campaign (21-25 March 2019), WHO and partners successfully reached 437,515 children across eight wards of Maiduguri. For the second phase (16 and 19 May 2019), an additional 800,666 children across 28 wards in 13 LGAs were vaccinated.
“Immunization is the best and safest way to protect our children against this serious but preventable disease. Borno State has mobilized, trained and engaged enough health workers, recorders, religious and traditional leaders to ensure that all eligible children in the target 13 LGAs are vaccinated against measles,” said Alhaji Babagana Abiso, Director for Disease Control, Borno State Primary Health Care Development Agency. “The State authorities welcome this immunization campaign. We are grateful to WHO, UNICEF and Gavi for making the exercise possible and supporting us in controlling the ongoing outbreak,” he added.
As a whole, WHO and its partners successfully vaccinated 1,227,038 eligible children across 32 wards in 13 LGAs upon completion of the reactive vaccination campaign on 19 May 2019.
Speaking on the outbreak, Dr Peter Clement the Officer-in-Charge said “WHO is deeply concerned about the large outbreaks of measles across Nigeria since the beginning of the year,” “we are therefore working assiduously with the NPHCDA, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, UNICEF and Gavi to control the outbreak.
He explained that, WHO emergency and immunization teams worked closely with Federal and State health authorities as well as health sector partners to reach as many children as possible and support the overall success of the campaign.