Concerns as 14 children die from measles in Anambra

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The government of Anambra has confirmed the death of 14 children from a measles outbreak in nine local government areas of the state.

Health commissioner Afam Obidike announced the figure at a post measles outbreak response news conference in Awka on Wednesday.

“Unfortunately, we recorded case fatalities. We lost about 14 children to the Measles outbreak out of 414 cases we had. It is something we need to be mindful of because the case fatality is high, about 48 per cent,” he said.

Mr Obidike noted that the cases were recorded in Anambra East, Anambra West, Ayamelum, Ihiala, Idemili North, Nnewi North, Onitsha North, Njikoka, and Oyi local government areas.

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The commissioner added that support from the World Health Organisation and the United Nations Children Emergency Fund helped the state to curtail the spread.

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“In March, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) alerted us of a Measles outbreak in nine LGAs in the state. We contacted the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to assist us to curtail further spread of the disease,” he further explained. “The disease spread from nine LGAs to 13 LGAs, but with the help of WHO, we swung into action and activated surveillance and our emergency response team in the affected LGAs and wards.”

He also mentioned that as a measure to tackle the disease, 19,609 unvaccinated children up to 59 months had been vaccinated.

He identified the impact of COVID-19, which affected routine immunisation in the state in 2021, as the primary reason for the outbreak.

“We also noticed that people living in clusters, poor environmental hygiene practices and poor uptake of vaccines were the other causes of the outbreak in the affected areas. We have contacted the Ministries of Environment and Water Resources to improve environmental hygiene and water supply in those affected areas,” stated the health commissioner. “We will also intensify social mobilisation to encourage residents to receive vaccination. We have activated routine immunisation in the state to prevent future outbreaks.”