Gombe governor urges unity in fighting Nafada meningitis outbreak as vaccination drive begins; confirms 26 fatalities

By Williams Ago 

In a bid to combat the recent outbreak of a mysterious disease in Nafada, Gombe State Governor, Muhammadu Inuwa Yahaya, has emphasized the importance of unity and non-politicization of health matters. 

The governor officially kicked off the cerebrospinal meningitis (CSM) vaccination campaign in Nafada Local Government Area, revealing that the outbreak has tragically claimed the lives of 26 individuals.

Governor Yahaya, speaking at the Emir of Nafada's palace, urged both the public and politicians to prioritize professional handling of public health issues and to support the efforts of healthcare experts in addressing the current health crisis.

Earlier this year (2024), the member representing Dukku/Nafada Federal Constituency, Abdullahi El-Rashid, brought to the House, the notice of the existence of a strange disease that was alleged to have killed a number of people in Nafada, thereby calling for urgent Federal Government intervention.

The State commissioner for health, Dr. Habu Dahiru, however came out to dispel the existence of the alleged killer disease saying, professional investigation by the Ministry of Health along with health workers in the area confirmed the prevalence of symptoms of cerebrospinal meningitis in the area and promised immediate intervention.

But while flagging off the vaccination campaign, Governor Inuwa, represented by his Deputy, Manasseh Daniel Jatau, said the ceremony symbolises a significant stride in Gombe State's relentless commitment to public health. 

According to him, through collaborative efforts and proactive measures, the government endeavors to mitigate the threat posed by cerebrospinal meningitis, safeguarding the well-being of its citizens.

He explained that, "earlier in February this year, cases of severe headache, fever, leg pain and convulsions were observed to be on the increase in Nafada General Hospital, through the routine surveillance system. 

Cerebrospinal fluid samples were collected and confirmed to be positive for cerebrospinal meningitis type "C" on the 18th of February 2024.

"The outbreak later spread to the neighbouring LGAs of Funakaye and Dukku. As at 28th March 2024, where 302 suspected cases of the disease were line-listed, 275 treated and discharged, and 26 died of the illness as recorded by our surveillance system," Manasseh Jatau stated.

He appealed to the populace to dispel any misconceptions or rumors regarding the origins of illnesses and deaths within society and urged citizens to prioritise seeking medical attention and reject unfounded notions attributing sickness to rivalries or unfriendly familial ties.

While emphasising and commending the necessity of collaborative actions of donor agencies and traditional leaders in addressing the outbreak, he urged all stakeholders to join hands in this critical endeavour.

He particularly appreciated the efforts of Traditional and Religious Leaders, field workers, National Primary Health Care Development Agency, partners such as World Health Organization (WHO), United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF), Chigari Foundation, Medicine San Frontiers (MSF) among others for their support and partnership.

The State Commissioner of Health, Dr. Habu Dahiru, passionately called on parents and guardians to bring forth their children for the vaccination, thereby ensuring comprehensive protection against cerebrospinal meningitis.

In his address, the Executive Secretary, State Primary Health Care Development Agency, Dr. Abdulrahaman said the vaccination is to mitigate effects of cerebrospinal meningitis (CSM) outbreak and meant for persons from ages one to 29 years, excluding pregnant mothers.

In appreciation, the Emir of Nafada, Alhaji Muhammadu Dadum Hamza, highlighted the significant efforts and quick response of the State government towards mitigating the outbreak of CSM.

He called upon citizens to remain vigilant and adhere to precautionary measures outlined by health authorities to prevent future outbreaks.
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