‘God Sent Meningitis To Nigeria To Punish Us For Fornicating’- Zamfara Gov
Governor Abdulaziz Yari of Zamfara State added a different dimension to outbreak of meningitis across the country when he said the new strain of meningitis in Nigeria is God’s way of showing his anger against Nigerians for turning their back on him.
He, however, expressed hope that the outbreak would eventually be tackled but noted that “the most important thing is for our people to know that their relationship with God is not smooth. All they need to do is repent and everything will be all right.”
Yari, who spoke to some radio stations at the State House, in Hausa, shortly after meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari, said the outbreak might not be unconnected with the people’s total disregard to God’s commandments.
Zamfara is the worst hit state since the outbreak of the disease with over 200 persons dead and several others receiving treatment at various hospitals and clinics.
“What we used to know as far as meningitis is concerned is the Type A virus. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has carried out vaccinations against this type A virus not just in Zamfara, but many other states.
“However, because people refused to stop their nefarious activities, God now decided to send Type C virus, which has no vaccination.
“People have turned away from God and he has promised that ‘if you do anyhow, you see anyhow’ that is just the cause of this outbreak as far as I am concern,
“There is no way fornication will be so rampant and God will not send a disease that cannot be cured,” he said.
Yari denied that his administration has not responded appropriately to the epidemic, adding that he called an emergency meeting comprising of all top state and local government officials and traditional rulers, stating that “the meeting came out with a strategy to be adopted and the money required to deal with the outbreak and a lot of work is going on”. According to him, the global announcement that because there are only five million doses of the vaccine against the Type C virus has compounded the problem. “That is not enough for Zamfara people alone, not to talk of Katsina or Kano,” he added.
Meanwhile, 336 deaths have been recorded across the Federation since the outbreak of meningitis across the country.
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, who disclosed this, said 2,997 suspected cases of Cerebrospinal Meningitis (CSM) have been reported in 16 states, of which 146 have been laboratory-confirmed.
Ihekweazu said 500,000 doses of Meningitis C vaccines have been distributed to some of the affected states for immediate outbreak response vaccination.
“Additional 823,970 doses of Meningitis C vaccines are expected from the United Kingdom, to support vaccination activities in other affected states. “The Emergency Operation Centre (EOC) will support state-wide vaccination campaign which starts in Zamfara State today. The team will also deploy and coordinate a robust national communication and social mobilisation campaign, focused on CSM prevention and control in rural and urban areas of affected states,” he said.
NCDC spokesman, Lawal Bakare, added that “NCDC Head of Emergency Preparedness and Response, Dr. John Oladejo, will act as incident manager of the response, while experts from the Federal Ministry of Health, NCDC, National Primary Health care Development Authority (NPHCDA), WHO, United Nations International Children Education Fund (UNICEF), Africa Centre for Disease Control (Africa CDC), United States Centre for Disease Control (US CDC), Medecins Sans Frontieres, AFENET, University of Maryland and E-Health Africa, will take key roles in different units which focus on five key components of the outbreak response. With the new team structure, all CSM outbreak response activities are now being coordinated in one place.
“We are confident we have turned the tide, and with increasing vaccination activities, expect a reduction in number of cases. Importantly, lessons learned from this outbreak will help the country prepare for the future,” the statement added.
Meanwhile, as part of proactive measures against the disease, Ondo State Government has cautioned residents against kissing and handshake, to prevent its spread.
Permanent Secretary of the state’s Ministry of Health, Dr Oni Taiye, who spoke at a sensitisation and awareness programme on the disease in Akure, yesterday, said Ondo’s emergency, preparedness and response team has swung into action to forestall the outbreak of the disease in the state.
“The fact that some neighbouring states in the South-West are ravaged by the disease calls for serious proactive measures by our state,” he said. He enjoined the public to report to the hospital immediately they experience symptoms such as fever, headache, respiratory track infection, sneezing, pain in the neck and back which could lead to stiffness of the neck, among others.
The permanent secretary urged residents to avoid over-crowding, ensure proper ventilation, increase hand washing, maintain proper hygiene, avoid shaking hand and kissing. In Abuja, Senate ordered the Health ministry, and other relevant government agencies, to carry out nationwide immunisation of children and adults against the disease.