The Minister of State, Health, Osagie Ehanire, said this while briefing State House correspondents of the outcome of the weekly meeting of the Federal Executive Council presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari.
He was joined by the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udo Udoma; Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun; and the Senior Special Assistant to the President on. Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu.
“In other to allay the fear of Nigerians, we want to make it clear that this is not a sign of the failing of the system, it is a fact that nature played a very different stroke this time that caught everybody off guard,” the minister said.
He said he briefed the council on the outbreak and responses by the ministry and the state governments concerned along with the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control, Nigeria Primary Health Care Development Agencies, World Health Organisation, UNICEF and other partners.
He said what made the outbreak to be peculiar was that it was caused by a different meningitis germ which is the Type C.
He explained, “This country before suffers meningitis around this time of the year when dry season is turning to raining season.
“In the area called the meningitis belt that ranges all the way from Senegal down to Ethiopia, Eritrea, the prevailing germ was the Meningecocus A. And the mass vaccines that has taken place all these years has led to almost total elimination of Type A.
“Type C has been very rear and this year it is the Type C that appeared. Unfortunately there is no cross immunisation. If you are immune to Type A doesn’t make you immune to Type C. And because Type C was very rear, the availability of vaccines has been very meager relatively.”
While saying the country had mobilised from all corners, Ehanire said 500,000 doses of vaccines were being distributed and the government had started vaccination campaign already.
He said government was also getting 826,000 units of the expensive vaccines which were being shipped from Europe to the country within the next few days.
He said the ministry had also placed order for additional two million doses, saying that it would be determined later if the country needs to increase the order the existing ones would be sufficient.
He put the number of cases as of Wednesday at 2,996 and put death toll at 336 with 141 confirmed cases.
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