UNICEF Delivers 850,000 Doses of Meningitis Vaccines, Confirms 130 Deaths in Sokoto



Mohammed Aminu in Sokoto 

The United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) wednesday said it had delivered 850,000 doses of meningitis vaccines to the Sokoto State government in a bid to tackle the outbreak of the disease in the state.

It also stated that at least 130 people  lost their lives as a result of the outbreak of the scourge in the state.

The Chief, UNICEF Sokoto Zonal Office, Mr. Mohammad Mohiuddin, disclosed this yesterday, at a  sensitisation meeting with Muslim and Christian religious leaders, traditional leaders and education stakeholders in  Sokoto.

He said the last batch of the vaccines were brought from Geneva, Switzerland yesterday and donated to the state.

According to him, in addition to that, UNICEF had provided N17 million in cash for logistics and social mobilisation activities.

He emphasised that the move was in response to the recent outbreak of meningitis that led to loss of lives of people in Sokoto, Kebbi and Zamfara States.

Mohiuddin explained that UNICEF was using its field network through local council consultants, Voluntary Community Mobilisers and Community Volunteers for sensitisation and information dissemination in nine affected local government areas of the state.

He said the endemic councils include Bodinga, Rabah, Dange Shuni, Sokoto North, Sokoto South, Tureta, Goronyo, Isa, and Gwadabawa.

“Community members are being sensitised about the disease, informed on the meningitis campaign, date, place and time of vaccination.

“For the remaining 14 local government areas, community members are being informed about the prevention of the disease and to seek help from health staff if they see the symptoms of meningitis,” he said.

He attributed the rising deaths in the state, to the inability of the people to go to health facilities for routine immunisation.

“People are not coming to health facilities for routine immunisation despite the fact that it is free. This is not the fault of the government or donor agencies but the people who refused to allow themselves to be vaccinated.

“The immunisation coverage is just five per cent in Sokoto and this is very poor. Communities are not seeing the benefit of this vaccines that is why they are now suffering,” Mohiudden explained.

The chief, to this end, reaffirmed the commitment of UNICEF to deliver the results for children and ensure their access to vaccination is a priority above other needs.

He appealed to traditional and religious leaders to redouble efforts in sensitisation of the people in order to tackle the ugly trend.

“Religious and traditional leaders should  intensify efforts on mobilisation of people to avail themselves of the opportunity to be vaccinated so that they can be saved,” the Chief added.

The Commissioner for Health, Dr. Balarabe Kakale, said the state had improved on its surveillance and deployment of vaccines to tackle the scourge.

He posited that efforts were being made to review the mode of  mobilisation so as to achieve the set targets.

“The truth of the matter is that we have been doing mobilisation but it is not working. We need to review that so that our people in rural areas will know the benefit of routine immunisation. We believe by doing this we will put a stop to all these outbreaks,” he averred.

In a remark, the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, called on imams in the state to work very hard by creating awareness especially for rural dwellers on the dangers of meningitis.

The monarch, who was represented by the District Head of Shuni, Mohammad Jabbi, urged them to rise up to the challenge by disseminating the messages in all nooks and crannies of the state.