Ihekweazu

Martins Ifijeh, Senator Iroegbu in Abuja

A total of 25 million people are scheduled to be vaccinated in a Yellow Fever Simulation Exercise campaign which has already begun in three states of Zamfara in the North-east, Kogi in the central and Kwara in the West.

This is a joint programme of Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and West African Health Organisation (WAHO) to strengthen its routine immunization coverage across the country.

The Head of Communications, WAHO, Mr. Harvey de Hardt-Kaffils, in a statement said the health workers have already been mobilised across the country.

Hardt-Kaffils said the focus on Yellow Fever has arisen because of the re-emergence of Yellow Fever in Nigeria after many years.

He stated: “Since September 2017, Nigeria has been facing Yellow Fever outbreaks that increasingly threaten urban areas. At least 358 suspected cases have been recorded in 16 states where the disease has already led to 45 deaths.

“This exercise will focus on an actual and large-scale simulation of an epidemic of Yellow Fever. In addition to checking the viability and compatibility of existing mechanisms in their implementation, this SIMEX will not only enhance awareness among epidemic control managers but also enhance their ability to effectively and timely respond to any Yellow Fever epidemics.”

The statement noted that WAHO, in its efforts to contribute to the capacity building of ECOWAS Member States in the area of preparedness and response to epidemics, is supporting the establishment of national emergency management mechanisms for public health emergencies.

To test these mechanisms and procedures in place for the management of major public health events in the ECOWAS region, WAHO is organising a Yellow Fever Simulation Exercise (SIMEX) in Lagos in collaboration with the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).

The purpose of the SIMEX according to the statement made available by NCDC “is to provide various partner institutions with a national and regional coordination framework for a multi-sectoral response to a public health emergency.”

WAHO as per its mandate remains committed in supporting Nigeria and the SIMEX being jointly organised with the Nigeria CDC with the financial support from the World Bank-REDISSE project, is one of such projects to support Member states

Expected outcomes from the SIMEX include: Improved knowledge of actors and stakeholders on risk factors for a possible outbreak of Yellow Fever cases in Nigeria and the ECOWAS region;

Strengthened preparedness and response measures of Lagos State (Nigeria) for a possible outbreak of Yellow Fever cases are tested; Team spirit and multi-sectoral cooperation within the ECOWAS Regional Rapid Response Team (ERRRT) members and epidemics control managers are strengthened.

The main findings and lessons learnt during the SIMEX will be documented, shared and disseminated across Nigeria, ECOWAS region and to relevant stakeholders.