Thought Leadership

How THISDAY reported the measles outbreak in Zaria

Sometimes it is difficult to gauge the media coverage of events in Nigeria, so I was happy to receive a copy of the Thisday newspaper from a reader of this blog showing us the 3 pages of in depth coverage given to yet another tragic measles outbreak. KUDOS TO THISDAY.

Just maybe….someone …somewhere will answer the question….

Why is it still alright for children to die from a Measles, a disease that can be prevented with a vaccine that costs less than a bottle of coke in NIGERIA?…

Imagine if this child is yours…

Now read the rest and be shocked. Measles is known to most medics as one of the easiest diseases to diagnose clinically. I.e. any nurse/doctor can identify a case of measles from its distinctive rash….especially in an endemic country like ours. But guess what Kano’s Commissioner of health did when the outbreak was reported…

He went on a “fact finding tour”….!

….when asked about what can be done in the future to prevent future outbreaks….he pointed to improved reporting systems…OK Yes..its important…but what about vaccinating the children???

This can hardly help the 200 kids that have died….and if you expected to read a bit of remorse here…you’ll have to look elsewhere…

…Thisday ended its 3-page coverage with 2 interviews…Great stuff apart from a plethora of factual inaccuracies. I am not sure this is a misinterpretation of information given …or wrong information given…These are highlighted here as consequences of wrong information in health issues can be deadly…

Dr Elijah Kehinde of Gambo Sawaba General Hospital Zaria is reported to say…

1. Measles is age specific. Wrong Any susceptible individual can be infected by the measles virus, but the risk of an adverse outcome such as death is higher in children.

2. The first sign the health worker should look for is redness of the eyes…what we call cophlix spots. Wrong…yes readness of the eyes should be looked for…this is called conjunctivitis, Koplik spots are small, white spots (often on a reddened background) that occur on the inside of the cheeks early in the course of measles.

3. Every child is supposed to undergo vaccination at 3 months. Wrong For measles..the schedule in Nigeria is measles at 9 months, but can be given from 6 months in outbreak situations.

…read on..

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed people can change the world; indeed it is the only thing that ever has…Margaret Mead

By Chikwe Ihekweazu

Chikwe Ihekweazu is an epidemiologist and consultant public health physician. He is the Editor of Nigeria Health Watch, and the Managing Partner of EpiAfric (, which provides expertise in public health research and advisory services, health communication and professional development. He previously held leadership roles at the South African National Institute for Communicable Diseases and the UK's Health Protection Agency. Chikwe has undertaken several short term consultancies for the World Health Organisation, mainly in response to major outbreaks. He is a TED Fellow and co-curator of TEDxEuston.

2 replies on “How THISDAY reported the measles outbreak in Zaria”

Still? When will the madness end? It is not as if we cannot take care of this problem. Where is the will? God have mercy.

Have you considered starting a campaign on this issue and using Nigerians online as a way to create awareness and even pressure on the authorities? Think about it. Anything is possible…

The health situation in Nigeria is pathetic. Not just health but all other sectors. I am not a doom prophet but a way the current situation can improve is if it becomes ‘mandatory’ for ALL Nigerians, politiians inclusive to begin to patrinize the nations hospitals. That is about the time they will witness the rot in the system and fix the rot or make genuine effort to correct the system.

Example – if our president, house of rep and senate members and ministers and commissioners travel out to treat Diabetes, cancer, fever and headaches because they can afford the bill outside the country, they will not be trully aware of the bad condition of ou hospitals and health care system because they have not suffered from it.

Take another example – our politicians send their kids to schools abroad and speak grammer when it comes to improving the education satandard in Nigeria. If they will withdraw their kids from foreign schools and put them in Nigerian schools, you will be amazed at the quick and positive change our schools will experience. This will be beacause their kids are their (Nigerian schools) and they will improve the schools because they want good education for their kids.

This also goes to the health sector and our hospitals.

If our politicians will patronise Nigerian public hospitals, they will imrpove the standard because they will want to recieve quality heath care from the same hospitals.

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