(By Gracia Obi)
The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) said measles outbreak in the northern part of the country has killed 36 children and infected more than 4,000 people, so far.
The agency’s North Central Coordinator, Mohammed Abdulsalam, said this at a workshop in Jos recently.
Mr. Abdulsalam said that the epidemic was ranked third after draught and flood in emergency data of the ten top natural disasters in Nigeria. He blamed the high rate of the epidemic in the country to illiteracy, ignorance, as well as poor state of personal and environmental hygiene. He said that congestion and absence of community-based early dictation, reporting and surveillance system were also contributing factors.
The NEMA coordinator explained that the one-day workshop was aimed at creating awareness and sensitise stakeholders to the ways of mitigating the spread of cerebrum-spinal meningitis, measles, cholera and lassa fever, especially during the rainy season.
“Health matters are being given proper attention nationwide, particularly by the ministry of health and other health related agencies. And during the raining season,
there are some epidemics that do happen as a result of flooding, because of the nature of our environment.
“Some environments are slums where you have dirt surrounding the people; the waste disposal system is very poor.
“So, people are vulnerable to all sorts of diseases, which informed NEMA’s decision to organise this workshop, where we bring in experts from the health sector to enlighten us and the general public on what we need to do to avoid diseases such as measles, cholera, meningitis and other diseases that are troubling our societies, so that people will take caution and prevent the occurrence of such diseases,” he said.
The NEMA boss said his agency wants to help avoid the loss of lives that have resulted from the measles epidemic. He said that the agency had carried out several awareness and sensitisationprogrammes in collaboration with state governments.
“We have carried out free immunisation exercises, monitored the states’ preparedness on the epidemic and trained disease and surveillance notifications officers on effective reporting