The federal government on Monday said it would need the sum of $ 1 billion for vaccination of 22 million Nigerians as part of efforts to tackle the outbreak of cerebrospinal meningitis, currently being experienced in some northern states of the country.
Meningitis broke out recently in Zamfara, Sokoto, Kebbi, Katsina and Niger States and has so far resulted in the death of 328 people.
Already, the Senate has declared the support on efforts being put in place by relevant federal government agencies in putting an end to the outbreak of the deadly disease.
The disease ravaging in affected states, according to reports has recorded 2,524 cases across the entire 16 states noted as the meningitis belt.
Briefing the Senate Committee on Primary Health Care and Communicable Diseases on measures in place by the federal government addressing the outbreak of meningitis in the north, the Acting Director –General of National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr Emmanuel Odu said $1.1 billion was needed to vaccinate an estimated 22million people in the affected states.
“To vaccinate a total population of 22million in the five affected states will cost $1.1billion; the cost of vaccines alone.
“And if we are to procure for all the 16 states in the meningitis belt, we can roughly multiply it by the $1.1billion”, he explained.
He said out of the doses being sourced with the $1.1billion from an Indian firm, 500,000 doses were delivered last week while 823,000 are being expected any time from now.
The vaccination according the National Coordinator for the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu will start on Thursday in Zamfara State being the most affected area after which that of Sokoto would follow suit.
The Chairman of the committee, Senator Mao Ohuabunwa and other members frowned at the fire brigade approach always adopted by the agency in fighting the yearly scourge by charging them to be more proactive in subsequent years.
However, the Senate President, Bukola Saraki in a series of tweets Monday on his @BukolaSaraki handle, stated that he had spoken with the Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole, to assure him of the Senate’s commitment to help end the epidemic.
He said: “I applaud FG’s, Ministry of Health, stakeholders and @WHO’s effort to fight meningitis in Nigeria. We need all hands-on deck!
“I spoke to Minister of Health, Prof. @IsaacFAdewole, on the #meningitis outbreak to assure him of @NGRSenate’s support.
“With a 15 percent mortality rate, the @NGRSenate stands ready to respond quickly to any requests for emergency assistance for #meningitis.”