Over 100 million Nigerians are presently at risk of yellow fever, the chairman, Expert Review Committee on Polio Eradication in Nigeria, Prof. Oyewole Tomori, has said.
Speaking at a Stakeholders Meeting on the Preparation for Mass Vaccination against Yellow Fever in Nigeria, organised by the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), he said children constituted about 90 per cent of the population of people at risk of the disease in the country.
He said 377 local government areas in 25 states were high risk zones, adding that the federal government “must do something fast to avoid epidemic.”
“Since from 1984 to 1992 when we had yellow fever epidemic in this country and mass vaccination campaign was conducted, we have not done any preventive measure against the disease again,” he said.
“Majority of people born since that time to date have not been immunised against yellow fever, which makes them susceptible to the disease. At that time, we recorded 20, 000 cases with 5, 000 deaths.
“Already, we have cases on yellow fever outbreak in our neigbouring countries of Gambia and Cameroun. While these countries went ahead to conduct mass immunisation campaigns, we are still lagging behind. We seem not to have learned any lesson from our 1984-1992 experience.
“Now we are sitting on a time bomb; and any outbreak of the disease will be more devastating than the 1984-1992 experience.”
In his presentation, Chief Consultant Epistemologist, Federal Ministry of Health, Dr. Akin Oyemakinde, said already cases of suspected yellow fever were annually reported from Cross River and Benue states.
“The situation has been of great concern to the Ministry of Health, which resulted in the initiation of mechanism to facilitate Yellow Fever mass vaccination campaign in the country,” he said.