The Ogun State Primary Health Care Development Board (OGPHDB), in collaboration with development partners in the health sector, has introduced Meningitis-A (Men-A) vaccine into the national routine immunization schedule across the State, in order to protect children against meningitis and to forestall the spread of epidemic disease.
Speaking at the flag-off ceremony, held at Mowe Health Centre in Obafemi-Owode Local Government Area, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health, Dr. Ayinde Adesanya stated that meningitis was an infectious disease capable of crippling the central nervous system which could affect vision, hearing and the ability to maintain balance, adding that it was more prevalent in the Northern region of the country but had over time, spread to the South due to human movement.
“Before, meningitis used to be rampant in the North but we know that overtime, it is crippling down South, in order to forestall spread of the epidemic disease, Meningitis-A will be taken along side yellow fever and measles at nine months. It will protect children against meningitis”, he assured.
In his contribution, the Executive Secretary of the Board, Dr. Elijah Ogunsola said meningitis was a major public health challenge, caused by different pathogens with the highest global burden seen in the bacterial meningitis, stating that the vaccine would be administered as an injection into the left upper outer thigh at nine months alongside Yellow Fever and Measles vaccines.
He appealed to mothers and caregivers not to be apprehensive but allow their children and wards to be given the three injections at the same time, assuring that the vaccines were safe and without side effects.
In their separate remarks, the State Co-ordinator, World Health Organisation (WHO), Dr. Sunday Abidoye, National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Victoria Adebiyi and the representative, United Nations Children Emergency Fund (UNICEF), Mrs. Florence Molokwu disclosed that Nigeria had 25 States, including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), that fell within the Men-A belt, which in effect, had about 26.7 million people between the ages of 1 and 7 years at the risk of the disease, noting that the introduction of the vaccine was another giant stride at improving the health and well-being of children in the State.
In his welcome address, Head of Local Government Administration (HOLGA), Obafemi-Owode Local Government, Dr. Abiodun Sorounke, appreciated the state government for the introduction of Men-A vaccine into the routine immunisation schedule, urging parents and caregivers to bring their children and wards to health facilities and be immunised free of charge.
Also speaking, the Olu of Mowe, Oba Babatunde Ojelade represented by Chief Olusegun Adebayo, commended government for given priority to children’s health.
In appreciation, Mrs. Azeez Temitope and Taiwo Abidemi, on behalf of mothers and caregivers, thanked government for providing the vaccine, aimed at improving the overall health status of children, promising to inform others to make their children available for immunisation.