From Rose Ejembi, Makurdi
There are indications that over 60 children mostly those above age five may have been down with measles at some of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps in Benue State.
Of the number, over 30 affected children are said to.be from the Ortese IDP camp in Guma Local Government Area (LGA) of the state, while the rest cut across the other IDPs camps in the state.
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Commissioner of Health and Human Services, Dr. Joseph Ngbea could not be reached at the time of this report but it was gathered that the Ministry may have set up some Emergency Operation Centers (EOCs) at the affected camps.
Contacted, Executive Secretary, State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), Dr. Emmanuel Shior disclosed that the state government, through the Ministry of Health was already addressing the situation.
“Usually during hot seasons like this, we experience issues of measles. So, the Ministry is collaborating with SEMA, Doctors Without Borders (MSF), UNICEF and the ICRC (International Committee for the Red Cross), who are supporting us in the area of WASH. We are addressing the concern”, he stated.
On his part, Benue Project Coordinator, Medicines Sans Frontieres (MSF), Mitch Rhyner who also confirmed the outbreak of measles in some IDP camps in the state however, could not readily give the figures of the affected persons.
“I don’t have the most recent figures. I can’t say the number of positive cases. As far as we know, the numbers have been relatively stable over the past week, but it’s so important that preventive measures are taken.
“I can say that the Emergency Operation Center (EOC) has been activated by the Ministry of Health and they are now proposing to do a vaccination campaign from March to April.
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“Both Daudu 3 and Ortese have had mass vaccination campaigns in the past year and that is being led by the Ministry of Health. MSF have provided support, mostly logistical supports in those vaccination campaigns. But it seems as though some of those vaccines were intended for children younger than five and those being infected by measles are older than five.
“So, that’s one of the reasons for shifting forward the date of vaccinations, because that’s one of the most effective ways to prevent further spread.
“We’ve referred several suspected measle cases to BSUTH and from there samples have been collected and sent to Abuja for testing.
“The last time I checked and can give you recent data, of the sample of approximately 60 patients, at least 80 percent were positive and that’s from the last couple of months because it took a while for the results to come back.
“But we are taking it seriously, especially in IDP camps where people are very close together”, he said.
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