WHO Combats Cerebrospinal Meningitis Outbreak in Yobe State, Nigeria

Yobe, 20 March 2024 – In the wake of a concerning Cerebrospinal meningitis (CSM) outbreak in Yobe State, Nigeria, the World Health Organization (WHO) has swiftly mobilized its technical expertise to aid local health authorities in containing the spread of the disease. 

Cerebrospinal Meningitis, potentially fatal illness characterized by inflammation of the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord, poses a significant public health threat, particularly in a state already dealing with the disease alongside a protracted humanitarian crisis.

Recognizing the urgency of the situation, WHO has stepped in to provide essential support and guidance by deploying 107 Northeast Humanitarian Health Emergency Experts and Polio Eradication Initiative (PEI) Officers to Yobe state to support the health authorities on the ground to mitigate the impact of the outbreak.

In his remark, the State Ministry of Health, the Commissioner for Health, Yobe state, Dr Lawan Muhammad Gana, appreciated WHO for its leadership as the lead agency for health and its role in coordinating the response to containing the outbreak.

 “WHO’s deployment of the team of experts to support the local health authorities’ response to the CSM outbreak is timely and much needed. With the level of experience hand present in the state, we are optimistic in no distant future, we will contain the outbreak and possibly avert future occurrences.  We will work together and ensure things are done differently to contain the outbreak, thereby saving the lives of the state’s most vulnerable and affected persons.” Said Dr Gana. 

As of a recent update, the Yobe state has reported about 1,186 suspected cases, 60 confirmed cases, and 38 deaths in Potiskum, Nangere, Fune, Fika, Gujba, Damaturu, Gulani, and Machina Local Government Areas.

The WHO specialized team is collaborating with local health authorities and bolster their efforts in disease surveillance, diagnosis, and response strategies. WHO has initiated an Incident Management System (including Coordination, Health Information, Risk Assessment, Case Management, Laboratory, Vaccination, Logistics, and Risk Communication and Community Engagement) at the Yobe State Public Health Emergency Operation Centre (EOC).

In addition, WHO has facilitated the approval and provision of 587,870 doses of Men5CV (ACYWX conjugate vaccine) from the International Coordinating Group (ICG). The vaccine will target susceptible persons aged 1-29 in Potiskum, Nangare and Fika LGAs.

“WHO as the lead United Nation’s (UN) health agency, will work collaboratively with the health authorities in the  Federal and State Ministries of Health to ensure effective coordination of partners to contain the CSM and other diseases outbreaks as well as support in sustaining access to primary healthcare services, said Dr Aurelien Pekezou Tchoffo, WHO Nigeria Officer in Charge.

“Thanks to funding from the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO) and USAID’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (BHA), WHO  will work closely with the Ministry of Health to improve coordination among partners, conduct a detailed investigation of the outbreak, enhance the skills of frontline healthcare workers, provide on-the-job mentorship, development of vaccination micro-plan, provide medical consumables and improve access to primary healthcare services, including those living in underserved locations and hard-to-reach areas, said Dr Kumshida Yakubu Balami, the interim WHO Northeast Emergency Manager.

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