WHO supports govt to tackle Yellow Fever outbreak in Delta, Enugu

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By Cecilia Ologunagba

Abuja, Nov. 11, 2020 The World Health Organisation (WHO) says it is supporting the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Delta and Enugu States to tackle Yellow Fever.

WHO made the disclosure in a statement issued on Wednesday from its Regional Office for Africa, Brazzaville, Congo.

According to the statement, WHO is supporting NCDC and Delta and Enugu to investigate and respond to recently reported deaths from unknown cause in some communities now identified to be an outbreak of Yellow Fever.

The Ministries of Health for both states notified the NCDC on Nov. 2 and Nov. 3 respectively of cases presenting with symptoms indicative of viral hemorrhagic fever.

As at Nov 6, three samples from Delta and one from Enugu tested positive for Yellow fever at Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital Laboratory and NCDC’s National Reference Laboratory, Abuja.

Yellow fever is caused by a virus spread through the bite of infected Aedes aegypti mosquitos.

Large epidemics of yellow fever occur when infected people introduce the virus into heavily populated areas with high mosquito density and low vaccination coverage.

With the onset of the current outbreak, epidemiologists, and other health professionals in WHO, NCDC and National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) are working in support of state public health teams.

They are working in support of State Public health teams or Rapid Response Teams (RRTs) that have been organised and trained in each of the affected states.

Outbreak investigation is ongoing in each state through the RRTs under the coordination of respective State Ministries of Health.

Hospitals have been identified in each state and capacitated to manage patients who develop symptoms and complications.

Initiating a response to the outbreak, Enugu State Commissioner for Health, Dr Ikechukwu Emmanuel Obi during the EOC meeting after definitive diagnosis of the disease said that the disease had been reported from Etteh-Uno and Umuopu communities in Igbo-Eze north LGA.

Obi indicated that the state RRT had done an outbreak investigation and identified those so far affected.

He promised to facilitate a reactive Yellow fever mass vaccination intervention for the affected and neighboring LGAs.

Meanwhile, the UN health agency said proactive vaccination campaigns were planned for most at risk states including Delta in 2020.

The Delta campaign that was supposed to start by the end of November, has now been brought forward and started on Nov. 10 in the affected LGAs.

Speaking on the outbreak, Dr Walter Kazadi Mulombo says that Nigeria is one of the countries implementing Eliminate Yellow Fever Epidemics (EYE) strategy.

This strategy is being steered by WHO, Gavi the Vaccine Alliance and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), to protect at-risk populations, prevent international spread and contain outbreaks rapidly.

“As part of EYE strategy, Nigeria has developed a 10-year strategic plan for the elimination yellow fever epidemics. Through this strategy, the country plans to vaccinate at least 80 per cent of the target population in all states by 2026”, Dr Mulombo said.

The Delta statewide proactive vaccination campaign was planned under the EYE strategy.

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