The World Health Organisation (WHO) has disclosed that 160 million Nigerians are at risk of yellow fever, making up around 25 per cent of all the people in Africa.
WHO also revealed that Nigeria vaccinated over 45 million people during the COVID-19 pandemic out of Nigeria’s population which is around 200 million people.
The Medical Officer, World Health Organisation Nigeria, Dr Anne Eudes Jean Baptiste, who stated this in a statement noted that yellow fever is a dangerous virus transmitted by infected mosquitoes while a small percentage of patients will go through a more toxic phase of the disease.
She said, the fever mainly affects the kidney and liver, adding that the affected person may experience bleeding coming from the mouth, nose and eyes and half of them will die within 7 to 10 days.
Director General of the Nigeria Center for Disease Control, Dr Ifedayo Adetifa, noted that the centre has strengthened surveillance considerably by establishing reference laboratories in the country which are being supported and assessed to meet all the performance parameters in terms of sample collection and referral to the reference labs in Abuja.
He stated that despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, NCDC has given out over 66 million doses in 2020 and 2021 to protect people from yellow fever outbreaks through routine immunisation, and mass vaccination campaigns that identify gaps in the population and proactively target vulnerable communities.
Dr Adetifa, who features in a documentary roll-out of a vaccination campaign in Taraba State that brings to light the global effort required to keep Nigerians safe said the actual number which was estimated at the time of the filming for preventive and reactive mass vaccination campaigns is 45 million during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Meanwhile, New films making round show the impact of yellow fever outbreaks in Taraba State, and the global efforts to eliminate yellow fever epidemics by 2026.
Muhammed in the film described his family’s tragedy and efforts to ensure protection for the rest of his children in one of two films commissioned by the Eliminate Yellow Fever Epidemics Strategy or EYE.
“I lost my second child to yellow fever. It was a very traumatising experience for my family and I,” explains Muhammed Awal, a father of five from Taraba State.
“We rushed the child to hospital when he started showing symptoms of the disease, and he died two to three days after because his internal organs had been very damaged.”
In 2016, deadly outbreaks of yellow fever in Angola and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, with spread to China, put the African continent on notice for this disease.
The EYE Strategy, a partnership between the World Health Organisation, UNICEF and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, was set up in response and identified Nigeria as a high-risk country.
EYE’s goal is to eliminate yellow fever epidemics by 2026, through a single-shot vaccine that gives lifelong immunity and aims to protect almost 1 billion people in Africa and the Americas.
In 2017, there was a resurgence in yellow fever in Nigeria after 15 years. This according to WHO is due to gaps in the detection of the disease rather than lack of transmission of the virus and the cyclical nature of sylvatic transmission.
It is believed that as surveillance and laboratory testing have been strengthened, improved information about the distribution of the disease in humans has become available.