By Jessica Onyegbula
Abuja – The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has called for collective effort of Nigerians to tackle Cerebro Spinal Meningitis (CSM) in the country.
The Chief Executive Officer of NCDC, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, made the appeal in a statement on Wednesday to commemorate the World Meningitis Day in Abuja.
He harped on applying preventive measures which he says is better than cure.
According to Ihekweazu, meningitis is the inflammation of the membranes, known as meninges that protect the brain and spinal cord from infection and direct physical injury.
He said the theme for this year is “Life after Meningitis”, adding that globally, meningitis affects about 2.8 million people each year.
According to the World Health Organisation, about 10 to 15 per cent of those surviving meningococcal meningitis will suffer from complications, including mental disorders, deafness, palsies and seizures.
“Survivors are also likely to suffer from disabilities resulting from damages to the nervous system, including hearing loss, learning and behavioural difficulties.
“Also, other complications include loss of sight, limb and organ damage, hence raising awareness of Meningitis and its after-effects is therefore very vital,” he said.
He stressed that the disease remains a major public health challenge affecting countries in the African meningitis belt, where Nigeria falls; noting that in 2019, 15 states are currently affected in Nigeria.
“Meningitis cases have been found to occur through the year in the country with an observed increase during the dry season.
“The disease is highly contagious and can kill within 24 hours, so recognising the symptoms early and acting fast is crucial.
“Meningitis can affect anyone, however infants, young children, adolescents and older people are at greatest risk, with major risk factors of being overcrowding and poor ventilation,” he said.
Ihekweazu said that infection of the meninges by microorganisms such as bacteria or viruses results in the condition known as Meningitis, is a very serious infection that could lead to death if left untreated.
The NCDC boss added that this year, the NCDC seeks to increase awareness on the signs, symptoms and the devastating after-effects that it could have.
He also said that part of the target by NCDC is the extreme importance of early diagnosis and treatment, and the crucial need to support Meningitis survivors and their families.
Ihekweazu said that Meningitis could be prevented by avoiding overcrowded places and ensuring adequate ventilation in the home, covering the nose and mouth with a disposable tissue when sneezing, coughing or blowing the nose
He added that proper disposing of used tissues promptly into a waste bin was also another means of preventing the disease.
“People should form the habit of washing hands frequently with soap under running water, especially after coughing or sneezing.
“Early presentation to a health facility and treatment increases chances of survival, so visiting the health facility immediately symptoms is suspected is extremely crucial.’’
He therefore urged all health workers to practice standard precautions at all times. (NAN)
By Jessica Onyegbula