By; JACOB ONJEWU DICKSON
Former Vice President and chieftain of All Progressives Congress (APC), Atiku Abubakar expresses concern on the high death toll so far recorded this year following the outbreak of cerebra spinal meningitis (CSM) and calls for concerted efforts to forestall further spread of the disease and attendant deaths.
In a message issued by his media office in Abuja on Thursday, 06 April, 2017, Atiku describes as worrisome the the death toll, which currently stands at 366.
“I understand that the heat–induced illness which causes the swelling of the outer part of the brain has also affected 2,996 cases in 16 states and 54 local government areas, and for me it implies a lot of effort is required to stop these deaths”, Atiku says.
He calls on the international community, including donor agencies to come to Nigeria’s aid on the grounds that “it is an emergency situation”.
Atiku also calls on relevant agencies of government to take precautionary measures since meningitis is “an annual ritual” by making sure that preventive measures are in place in states that are prone to the health challenge.
Furthermore, he calls for “serious inter-agency collaboration” involving the Ministries of Health, Housing, Environment, Information as well as metrological agency, Nigeria Primary Health Care Development Agency and Nigeria Centre for Disease Control that would lead to the development of a “comprehensive preventive and treatment masterplan” that would ensure that the carnage recorded in 2017 is avoided in subsequent years.
The Turakin Adamawa also calls for sustained research on the ailment to identify new strains of the microorganism that causes the disease in order to avoid the new challenges being experienced in treating victims of the outbreak of meningitis this year.
Atiku calls for appropriate budgetary allocations by Local, State and Federal governments, to ensure the availability of funds for the early procurement of vaccines and other items needed for quick medical response when there is an outbreak.
He says a preventive package must include a robust enlightenment and educative program on the disease, how it should be avoided, signs of contracting it as well as what to do when there is an outbreak so that respective individuals and families would become part of efforts to “kick meningitis out of Nigeria” in the same concerted way the polio disease was dealt with in the country.
The APC stalwart says that traditional rulers and religious leaders should be part of the campaign since they are closer to the people, especially, in the rural areas.
Atiku prays for the repose of the souls of those who died from the outbreak of the disease and the quick recovery of those receiving treatment. He also prays that God gives the bereaved families the fortitude to bear the loss of their loved ones.