Victor Ogunje in Ado Ekiti
To curtail the spread of yellow fever in Ekiti State, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has said it will immunize two million persons in the state to protect the population from the scourge.
The vulnerable population, ranging between ages nine months and 44 years, representing 85 per cent of the 2.3 million Ekiti population, will enjoy the inoculation between January 24 and February 2, 2020.
A World Health Organisation (WHO) State Technical Officer, Ekiti State, Mr. Ayomide Aibinuomo, described yellow fever as a killer disease, saying it has claimed the lives of many people in the northern part of the country, but with low level of spread in the south.
The WHO expert spoke on Saturday in Ado Ekiti during a seminar organised for stakeholders by UNICEF to work out modalities for the 10 days vaccination programme against the spread of yellow fever in the state beginning from January 24 to February 2, 2020.
The WHO consultant said the introduction of the intra-muscular vaccination became expedient following 24 suspected incidences recorded in the last eight years.
Aibinuomo disclosed that available statistics indicated that six confirmed cases were recorded out of 18 suspected issue of yellow fever attack in 2018, while six were recorded in 2019 accordingly.
“We have 24 suspected cases in Ekiti between 2018 and 2019. We have met with traditional, religious and educational institutions to partner us to spread the gospel of anti-yellow fever across all the 177 wards in the state.
“Though, there might not be any suspected case in 2020, but for the suspected cases recorded in neighbouring states of Ondo, Oyo, Osun and Edo, we have to take proactive measures, because Ekiti people have high level of migration.
“The vaccine has no adverse effect. It is free and can be taken by anybody except those with immuno-compromised cases like HIV, pregnant persons and nine to 44 years are the most vulnerable, that is why they are the target, but those above the age can be attacked,” he said.
Aibinuomo stated that to aid sensitization across the state, 177 ward mobilisers sponsored by the state government and 85 town announcers have been hired to complement the awareness being produced by traditional media .
“It is not oral innoculation, but an injectable vaccine. Let us protect ourselves from this deadly virus. We have lost precious ones to yellow fever and even the simple measles, so there is need for us to take caution”.
Also speaking on the expediency of sensitization , a health officer at the Ekiti State Primary healthcare Development Agency, Mrs Ajayi A.A, said the health workers that will prosecute the case will ensure that all the vulnerable citizens are captured in the exercise .
“We are going to work with traditional, religious and youth organistions , so that the community can take ownership of the programme and publicise it.
“We are going to provide logistics that will make us reach even the hardest terrain. We want to get there and vaccinate our people, because you cannot underrate the disease, it has tendency to kill if not properly treated.
“And there was need for behavioural change, people shouldn’t resist the injection because of religion or superstitions. It has no repercussion, it will only strengthen our immunity to prevent us from being attacked by the virus,” she said.