Measles: Lagos Takes Step Towards Elimination

Martins Ifijeh

Children are dying needlessly from vaccine preventable diseases namely measles, tuberculosis, diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, poliomyelitis and yellow fever because parents and caregiver are uninformed about the importance of this very simple act of immunisation to the health status of their children. It is sad to note that half of these deaths occurred in sub-Saharan Africa and Nigeria accounts for a significant proportion of these preventable childhood deaths

Measles is one of the six childhood killer diseases that can be prevented through complete and effective vaccination. The symptoms and signs of measles infection include fever, running nose, sneezing, skin rashes that start from the head and spreads to other parts of the body, ulcers in the mouth, etc. Complications of Measles infection include swelling of the brain tissue (encephalitis), ear infection, chest infections, blindness and even death.

Remarkable progress has been made in the prevention of measles infection and its attendant complications through measles vaccination. The success story on the reduction of childhood deaths recorded worldwide from the late 1990s and year 2008 has been largely due to improved supplemental immunisation activities.

World over, the emphasis have been on making sure every children completes routine immunisation schedule before the age of one year; and equally take advantage of supplemental immunisation doses like measles vaccines.

Measles is a highly contagious viral illness transmitted through air droplets and with higher fatality rate amongst children who are under the age of five years in view of their vulnerability. Measles infection is deadly and all care givers must ensure that their children from nine to 59 months of age take the vaccination against measles during this campaign.

It is in making sure children in Lagos are measles free that the government is holding the 2018 Measles Immunisation Campaign to provide both initial and follow up opportunities will be in two streams.

According to the Special Adviser to the Lagos State Governor on Primary Health Care, Dr. Olufemi Onanuga, the first stream starts March 15th – 22nd in Alimosho, Agege, Ajeromi, Amuwo, Epe, Ikorodu, Lagos Island, Lagos Mainland, Mushin, Ojo. Adding that the second Stream- holding between 22nd – 29th March, 2018 will take place in Apapa, Badagry, Ikeja, Kosofe, Somolu, Ifako – Ijaiye, Oshodi-Isolo, Surulere, Ibeju-Lekki and Etiosa.

“The overall goal of Measles Vaccination Campaign in Lagos State is to reduce childhood mortality and morbidity from Measles infection among children aged nine months to five years. And the commitment of the Ambode-led administration to this preventive healthcare endeavour is total, given its mandate of preserving, protecting and restoring the health of Lagosians,” Onanuga said.

“The main objective of the campaign is to immunise at least 95 per cent eligible children with Measles antigens in all the 20 LGAs and 37 LCDAs, irrespective of their previous immunization status.

“It is important that all children aged nine months and five years receive an extra dose during this campaign, irrespective of their previous Measles immunisation status. It is therefore crucial for all of us to prevent children dying from this deadly disease by ensuring they receive a dose of measles immunisation during this campaign period.

Measles vaccine is safe for all children even if the child has common illness, such as diarrhea, malaria or if the child is malnourished,” he added.

He said two types of vaccination post will be used for the Measles vaccination campaign Fixed Post and Temporary Fixed Post, adding that the Fixed Vaccination Posts were located at permanent health facilities where immunisation will be provided throughout the day for all the days of the campaign. “The posts will also serve as depots for storage and distribution of vaccine and other supplies to other fixed sites and mobile teams.

“The Temporary Fixed Vaccination Posts will be located at selected points at the communities such as public/private schools, mosques/churches, town halls, houses of traditional leaders, bus stops or terminals/motor parks, streets and markets, and hard-to-reach areas and border communities (local and international). Immunisation will be provided at these sites for either the duration of the campaign or partially, depending on the population density,” he said.

According to him, the mobilisers will encourage the eligible children in houses to visit the immunisation posts for Measles vaccine and the other antigens. The operations will be between the hours of 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. daily at all designated posts.

He said to ensure the success of this year’s Measles vaccination campaign, many refresher trainings have been conducted to prepare healthcare providers at all levels of care, adding that series of social mobilisation activities such as radio jingles and media appearances have been implemented.

“Intergovernmental collaborations are being strengthened. The Local Government Areas social mobilisers have also been moving within the communities to sensitise and mobilise the citizenry effectively. Specifically, town announcements; community dialogues; mosque/church announcements; sensitisations with schools; and advocacy meetings with LGA Chairmen, Ward Councillors, Supervisory Councillors for Health, and key traditional and religious leaders have been and are being carried out. International partners such as UNICEF, Japanese International Cooperation (JICA) amongst others have also augmented the creation of the needed awareness at the community level. The role of the Federal Ministry of Health and NPHCDA in giving direction and fervour to this endeavour cannot be overemphasised; The Lagos State Primary Healthcare Board as well as the State Ministry of Health also have all hands on deck in ensuring a successful exercise. The roles of other partners such as the Rotary International in ensuring success of this campaign are also acknowledged. In addition, state technical facilitators and independent monitors to provide technical assistance and supervisory support on the field are equally on ground. Machineries have also been put in place to ensure effective monitoring at all levels by all the stakeholders.”
He said in Lagos State, tremendous progress has been made, of late, in the drive to drastically reduce the incidence of Measles and its attendant morbidity/mortality.

“Every parent and caregiver are therefore enjoined to ensure that all their children between the age of nine months up to five years are taken to the health posts or designated posts for the Measles vaccination. The service is free! The vaccine is safe and effective, and is to be administered to the children irrespective of their previous immunisation status,” he added.

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