Measles Outbreak: Over 1.2m Children Vaccinated in Borno, Says WHO


Michael Olugbode in Maiduguri

Over 1.2 million children have been vaccinated against measles in Borno State, the World Health Organisation (WHO), has revelead.

A publication of the United Nations’ Organisation (UN) showed that WHO, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and Gavi – the vaccine alliance, completed a campaign that successfully vaccinated more than 1.2 million children between the ages of six and 71 months with life-saving vaccine against measles.

The report recalled that Nigeria has been experiencing outbreak of measles since the beginning of the year, affecting all 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

In total, 28,796 suspected cases have been recorded from 660 local government areas (LGAs) with 89 deaths.

Borno is the most affected state with 15,237 suspected measles cases reported, including 75 associated deaths across 37 internally displaced persons (IDPs) camps in 22 LGAs.

The UN report quoted Yakura Ibrahim, a mother of three children in Hausari ward of Maiduguri in Borno State, as saying: “I have heard that children were falling sick with the disease. The whole camp was very concerned. Several children were becoming sick at the same time, including mine. We spend all our time looking after them and cannot engage in any other activities.”

In response to the outbreak,WHO, state Ministry of Health, National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), UNICEF and Gavi – the Vaccine Alliance, organised a reactive vaccination campaign to provide life-saving vaccines against measles in two phases.

“During the first phase of the campaign (March 21-25, 2019), WHO and partners successfully reached 437,515 children across eight wards of Maiduguri. For the second phase (May 16-19, 2019), an additional 800,666 children across 28 wards in 13 LGAs were vaccinated,” the report explained.

Speaking on the exercise, the Director for Disease Control, Borno State Primary Health Care Development Agency, Alhaji Babagana Abiso, said: “Immunisation is the best and safest way to protect our children against this serious but preventable disease. Borno State has mobilised, trained and engaged enough health workers, recorders, religious and traditional leaders to ensure that all eligible children in the target 13 LGAs are vaccinated against measles.”

He added that: “The state authorities welcome this immunisation campaign. We are grateful to WHO, UNICEF and Gavi for making the exercise possible and supporting us in controlling the ongoing outbreak”

The UN report said that as a whole, WHO and its partners successfully vaccinated 1,227,038 eligible children across 32 wards in 13 LGAs upon completion of the reactive vaccination campaign on May 19, 2019.

Speaking on the outbreak, the Officer-in-Charge, WHO, Dr. Peter Clement, said “WHO is deeply concerned about the large outbreaks of measles across Nigeria since the beginning of the year,” adding that “we are therefore, working assiduously with the NPHCDA, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), UNICEF and Gavi to control the outbreak.”

He explained that, WHO’s emergency and immunisation teams worked closely with federal and state health authorities, as well as health sector partners to reach as many children as possible and support the overall success of the campaign.