Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole has said that Nigeria is currently considering local production of meningitis vaccines as death rises to above 800.
Adewole disclosed this while addressing State House correspondents after Wednesday’s Federal Executive Council, FEC, meeting.
He said the government was exploring a joint venture with a local drug manufacturer to produce the vaccines in Nigeria.
The Minister however added that despite the increase in death toll, which now stands at 816, the outbreak is now spreading more slowly.
“As of yesterday (Tuesday), the number of deaths stood at 813”, Adewole said.
“As of now, we are also noticing a decline. This is week 16.
“This is also expected because we are moving away from the active season.
“We are confident that in the next couple of weeks everything will be over.”
As at April 19, the ministry of health announced that 745 people had died of meningitis out of over 8,000 suspected cases.
The outbreak is higher in the northern region of Nigeria and a robust vaccination programme is currently ongoing to tackle the disease.
Zamfara, Sokoto, Katsina, Niger and Kebbi, are the states that have recorded highest number of cases and deaths.
Governor Abdulaziz Yari of Zamfara State, had infamously attributed the outbreak of meningitis in his state to the sins of Nigerians, for which, according to him, the disease was a punishment.
About 300 people died of the disease in Zamfara alone.
The governor’s statement drew huge criticism from far and near.
In a related development, Senate President, Bukola Saraki, has charged the relevant agencies to ensure that preventable diseases do not keep claiming lives in Nigeria.
He made this known via series of tweets to mark the World immunization week.
“We’ve lost about 800 people to Meningitis – this should not be the case,” he tweeted.
“We must encourage families to take their children for vaccination.
“As we mark #WorldImmunizationWeek, we must all encourage our families and communities to embrace vaccines as a preventive healthcare measure.”
Meningitis is spread through coughs, sneezes and close contact, and the ministry of health has warned Nigerians to maintain clean hygiene and avoid crowded, poorly ventilated environments.
This year’s outbreak of the disease was also worsened by the lack of available vaccine for the type C meningitis strain.