“I heard about how dangerous yellow fever was on a radio programme. I became full of fear for my life and that of my family and decided we all go for vaccination to protect ourselves, “Malam Aliyu Hassan told our reporter when he took his four children and himself to “Asibitin Dr. Barau at Rafin Dadi community in Katsina for vaccination.”
Hassan asked if he could bring his pregnant wife as well and the nurses on duty told him “yes, it is safe for her as well.”
Yellow fever is a disease transmitted by a specific kind of infected mosquitoes. However, only a small portion of the infected individuals develop severe disease.
Since the reported outbreak of the disease at Danmusa and Kankara with the state Ministry of Health confirming 36 cases, a massive vaccination exercise has been embarked upon targeting seven million residents of the state aged between 9 months to 44 years.
Although state health officials put the number of reported cases at 36, a report from the World Health Organisation’s Integrated Disease Surveillance and Response (IDSR) obtained from the Red Cross office in the state showed that between April and June this year, Katsina recorded a total of 314 cases of yellow fever. Of the cases 163 were males while 151 were females.
Also, UNICEF data sourced at a stakeholders pre-vaccination launch meeting showed that 185 cases have so far been recorded in 19 local government areas of the state with Danmusa Local Government Area having the highest of 55 cases followed by Musawa Local Government Area with 39 cases.
A breakdown of other councils showed that Danja recorded 14 cases, Kankara 10, Funtua 10, Sabuwa 9, Daura 7, Kankia 5, Matazu 5, Kafur 5, Safana 5, Sandamu 5, Malumfashi 4, Charanchi 3, Jibia 3, Bakori 2, Katsina 2, Baure 1 and Mai’adua 1.
Of all the figures, 65% (121) of the victims were male while the rest of 35% (64) were female.
Daily Trust reports that when around June – July this year, the yellow fever outbreak was recorded in Danmusa LGA, a prompt vaccination of about 12,000 residents in the area took place.
A source at the state primary health care development agency said the vaccination was aimed at curtailing its spread to other parts of the state and has effectively done that.
“When the issue came up, the state’s Emergency Operation Centre swung into action and a team was dispatched to the town where samples were taken and sent to Lagos and Abuja. When we got the results we then did that reactive vaccinations,” the source said.
Speaking on the issue earlier, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health, Dr Kabir Mustapha, said “earlier, the state recorded some cases around Danmusa and we have been very proactive. We immunised the community and it has stopped. We haven’t recorded any incident since the Danmusa’s that was curtailed.”
Since the commencement of the 10 days massive vaccination exercise across the state, people have been trooping en masse to get their wards and children vaccinated. Health workers visit schools to immunise children.
A health worker who pleaded anonymity told our reporter that every day they surpassed their target.
“Like in this facility (Asibilin Barau) our target yesterday was 200 people but we immunised close to 500. There is a rush for the vaccination,” he said.
According to Dr Kabir Mustapha, the massive vaccination embarked upon was part of proactive measures taken to address the menace of the disease, adding “these emerging cases are the reason I am standing here before you to ensure the commencement of the preventive campaign against this potentially life-threatening disease with free vaccines.”
“This is a great opportunity for all caregivers to have their children from the age of 9 months vaccinated and for other individuals up to the age of 44 years. This age range is chosen because they are found to be most affected,” he said
He appealed to heads of households, individuals, traditional and religious leaders to engage with their community members to guard against vaccine refusal and ensure that all eligible target populations are captured in the vaccination which will last for 10 days.
The Executive Director, National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Faisal Shuaib, who was represented by a member of the National Technical Coordinating Committee, Shehu Usman, said the exercise will be extended to schools, mosques, churches, markets and motor parks among others where the eligible could be found.
The Executive Secretary, State Primary Health Care Development Agency, Dr. Shamsudeen Yahaya, urged the people not to hesitate in reporting to health facilities any suspected case of yellow fever.
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Head of Communication Specialist, Musa Rabiu, in his remarks assured on their readiness to support and collaborate with the state government towards addressing education and health challenges in the state.
For the Nigerian Red Cross and Red Crescent Society (NRCS) chapter in the state, surveillance of diseases shall be given top priority as it has engaged and trained 201 volunteers that are domiciled in some of the volatile local government areas of the state on new techniques of data collection, strategy and operational guidelines.
The state branch secretary of the Red Cross, Bala Abdullahi Usaini, said security challenges in the affected councils of Batsari, Danmusa, Safana, Jibia, Sabuwa, Kankara, Dandume amongst others have led to lack of proper documentation of many cases of the diseases which necessitated the engagement of the volunteers.