By Sola Ogundipe
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, says Nigeria has keyed into the global roadmap to defeat Cerebrospinal Meningitis, CSM, by 2030 as launched by the World Health Organisation.
In a statement, on Wednesday, the NCDC Director-General Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, said the move illustrates significant commitment towards meningitis control, which is especially critical for Nigeria as meningitis remains a major public health challenge.
According to Ihekweazu, the global road map sets out a plan to tackle the main causes of acute bacterial meningitis through three strategic goals -eliminate epidemics of bacterial meningitis, reduce cases of vaccine-preventable bacterial meningitis by 50 percent and deaths by 70 percent, and also reduce disability and improve quality of life after meningitis of any cause.
“Although Nigeria has implemented interventions including the introduction of the Meningitis A Conjugate vaccine in the routine immunisation schedule, the country records annual large outbreaks of meningitis.
“Since the 2016/2017 meningitis outbreak in Nigeria that led to over 1,160 deaths, NCDC has continued to work closely with states within the meningitis belt.
With support from WHO and partners, our support is towards strengthening preparedness, detection, and response to meningitis.
Some interventions led by NCDC include the training of clinicians on case management of meningitis and lumbar puncture to increase the rate of confirmation of cases among other activities.
Ihekweaza said in 2021, NCDC began a pilot study in collaboration with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), WHO, and University College London.
“This is to develop approaches that can increase the diagnostic yield of confirmed meningitis and enable early detection of outbreaks.
“Given Nigeria’s experience with annual outbreaks of meningitis, we remain committed to contributing to global research and development.
The successful implementation of the global strategy to defeat meningitis will depend on strong political commitment and a whole-of-society approach at the country, regional and global level.
As the agency with the mandate to lead the prevention, detection and control to disease outbreaks, NCDC remains committed to working with states, WHO and other partners in implementing the roadmap to defeat meningitis by 2030 in Nigeria and globally.
CSM is a priority epidemic-prone disease with cases reported all year round in Nigeria. The highest burden occurs in the part of sub-Saharan Africa known as the “Meningitis Belt” that covers all the 19 northern states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
The WHO, it is aiming to eliminate the most deadly form of meningitis by 2030 through increased awareness and access to treatments.
While meningitis is typically caused by bacterial and viral infections, bacterial meningitis kills more people than any other form of the disease.
The Global Roadmap to Defeat Meningitis by 2030 was launched by a coalition of partners in Geneva to focus on preventing infections and improving care and diagnosis for those who contract meningitis.
“Wherever it occurs, meningitis can be deadly and debilitating; it strikes quickly, has serious health, economic and social consequences, and causes devastating outbreaks,” said WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
Left untreated, bacterial meningitis can cause fast-spreading epidemics, killing one out of 10 infected people, while one in five people are left with chronic conditions including seizures, hearing and vision loss, and neurological damage.