14 children succumb to measles in Anambra

A child with measles

A child with measles

By Lucy Osuizigbo-Okechukwu

At least 14 children have been confirmed dead out of abot 414 cases of measles recently recorded in nine local government areas of Anambra state.

Afam Obidike, Anambra Commissioner for Health, Dr Afam Obidike, gave the figure at a Post Measles Outbreak Response news conference in Awka, the state on Wednesday.

He added that the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) alerted the state to the measles outbreak in the nine LGAs in March.

Obidike listed the nine local government areas affected as Anambra East, Anambra West, Ayamelum, Ihiala, Idemili North, Nnewi North, Onitsha North, Njikoka, and Oyi.

He added that the World Health Organisation and the United Nations Children Emergency Fund are helping the state to curtail the spread.

“In March, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) alerted us of Measles outbreak in nine LGAs in the state. We contacted the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), to assist us curtail further spread of the disease.

“The disease spread from nine LGAs to 13 LGAs but with the help of WHO, we swung into action and activated surveillance and our emergency response team in the affected LGAs and wards.

“Unfortunately, we recorded case fatalities. We lost about 14 children to the Measles outbreak out of 414 cases we had.

“It is something we need to be mindful of because the case fatality is high, about 48 per cent,” he said.

He said that as a measure to tackle the disease, a total of 19,609 unvaccinated children from age zero to 59 months had been vaccinated.

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The commissioner said that the surrounding communities of the nine local government areas were also vaccinated to prevent the spread of the disease.

He identified the impact of COVID-19 which affected routine immunisation in the state in 2021 as the major reason for the outbreak.

“We also noticed that people living in clusters, poor environmental hygiene practices and poor uptake of vaccine were the other causes of the outbreak in the affected areas.

“We have contacted the Ministries of Environment and Water Resources, to improve environmental hygiene and water supply in those affected areas.

“We will also intensify social mobilisation to encourage residents to receive vaccination. We have activated routine immunisation in the state to prevent future outbreaks,” he said.

The commissioner described measles as a viral infection common among children under five years but easily preventable through administration of doses of vaccine.

He said the disease spread through the air by respiratory droplets produced from coughing or sneezing, adding that the peak of the spread was usually during the dry season, around February, March and April.

Also speaking, Dr Chioma Ezenyimulu, Executive Secretary, Anambra State Primary Healthcare Development Agency, also announced that plans were underway to commence a standalone measles vaccination campaign in the state.

According to her, the campaign will cover all the 21 local government areas of the state.

It would be recalled that the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) in March announced the outbreak of measles in nine local government areas of Anambra.

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