By Francis Okoye |
Over 1,158 children have been diagnosed with measles since the first case of the disease in early December 2020 in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital.
This was disclosed yesterday in Maiduguri by David Thérond, Médecins Sans Frontiers (MSF) head of mission.
Officials of Médecins Sans Frontiers (MSF), also known as Doctors Without Borders, said the number was alarming and that an urgent vaccination campaign was needed to save children.
MSF said it was caring for a high number of patients suffering from measles in and around Maiduguri.
“The first child affected by measles was admitted in Gwange Paediatric Hospital on 3rd December 2020 and the number of patients has been increasing since then in Maiduguri hospitals,” he said.
Thérond expressed worry that a vaccination campaign is required to see the number of cases decrease.
MSF said it had so far received a total of 1,158 children with measles in Gwange paediatric hospital in Maiduguri from January 1 to April 3, 2021.
MSF Mobile Clinics Provides Healthcare Services In Borno State Despite Insecurity
Of those numbers, 58 percent have come from Zabarmari, a small town located about 20km from Maiduguri.
MSF said it had to strengthen the hospitalisation capacity in both Gwange and Fori health facilities. The doctors without borders did that by increasing the number of beds from 65 to 105 in Gwange.
To further strengthen the response capacity, MSF launched activities in partnership with the health authorities in Zabarmari, being one of the most affected areas.
Zabarmari, an agrarian location of Maiduguri with an estimated population of over 45,000 people including displaced families in host community, was where insurgents beheaded 76 farmers in November last year.
Kubura Mohammed, a mother of seven children, lives in Zabarmari.
She was seen in the pediatric hospital with her four-year-old daughter, Kaltume Hafisu, who has been diagnosed with measles.
‘My daughter had been ill for six days before I brought her to the hospital. The medical team were all around my daughter throughout our first night because her condition was critical. Her treatment commenced from the moment she was admitted and these include blood transfusion and the administration of intravenous fluids.
“The care we are receiving here is completely free. We appreciate what MSF is doing in our community and I must add that about two weeks ago, one of my daughters was also treated for measles in this hospital. All my seven children have had measles at different times,” she said.
Records show that Borno state has had incidents of measles epidemic every two years over the past decade.
During the measles outbreak in 2019, eight local government areas of Borno state were affected and MSF provided care to 4,000 children in Gwange and Bama hospitals. Several factors contribute to the epidemic. This includes the fact that the routine vaccination is not carried out in many locations because over 60% of health centres, according to health authorities, are closed or unable to function properly because of the insurgency, and the fact that NGOs providing health care in remote areas have been forced to leave due to security reasons.
“We are engaged in discussions with the authorities and get prepared to support the health authorities for a catch-up vaccination campaign in Maiduguri and Zabarmari as soon as vaccines are available because measles is extremely contagious and especially dangerous for young children,” Thérond said.