The Federal Ministry of Health has issued a public advisory on how to curtail the spread of cerebrospinal meningitis which death toll has risen to 328 so far.
In a press statement issued by the Director of Media and Public Relations, Bolade Akinola, the health ministry assured Nigerians that it is working hard to bring the epidemic to an end, urging citizens to remain calm.
“We advise Nigerians to continue abiding by health advice which will be issued periodically as feed back of the situation will be given to the public”, it stated .
According to the statement, “the current outbreak of Cerebro Spinal Meningitis, CSM, has spread across the country, mostly affecting states in the part of Nigeria which fall within the African Meningitis Belt.”
As at Friday, March 31, show that 90 local government areas in 16 states of the federation have so far been affected including Zamfara, Kano, Katsina, Sokoto, Kebbi, Niger, Nasarawa, Jigawa, FCT, Gombe, Taraba, Yobe, Osun, Cross Rivers, Lagos and Plateau.
Though the outbreak started in Zamfara State in November, 2016, the ministry of health stated that the epidemic is not unique to Nigeria, as neighbouring West African countries like Niger, Chad, Cameroun, Togo and Burkina Faso are also facing similar outbreak.
Statistics from the health ministry show that 2524 people have been affected across the states, 131 samples confirmed in the laboratory with majority as meningitides type C, and 328 deaths recorded so far.
On ways to prevent contracting the disease, Nigerians are advised to “avoid overcrowding, sleep in well ventilated places, avoid close and prolonged contact with cases, proper disposal of respiratory and throat secretions, strict observance of hand hygiene, reduce hand shaking, kissing, sharing utensils or medical intervention such as mouth resuscitation.”
Citizens are also advised to avoid self medication, and to take relevant stereotype vaccination for meningococcal.
“It is also important for individuals to acquaint themselves with basic knowledge of CSM in order to prevent transmission,” the statement added.
Akinola noted that all secondary and tertiary public health facilities have been directed to provide free treatment to all CSM patients, urging citizens to seek early treatment.
The statement however noted that “although the cumulative number of people and locations affected may continue to increase, the actual rate of increase has begun to decline in some states indicating that the end to the epidemic is in sight.”