Thought Leadership

Sad – Yet another Measles outbreak

How many children will have to die from measles in Nigeria?

Avid readers of this blog will know that the occurrence of measles outbreaks in Nigeria causes us particular pain.
Early in our existence, we blogged about an outbreak in Borno in June, with a reported 60 deaths. In October, we asked why children continue to die from a disease that can be prevented with 50 cents!…Prof. Professor Idris Mohammed, a one time Chairman of the Board of Management of National Programme for Immunisation (NPI), described it as a conduit pipe for diverting immunisation funds to private accounts of a few people on an unbelievably massive scale…in his recently published book “Academics, Epidemics and Politics: An Eventful Career in Public Health

This month…yet another outbreak is reported in Kano with 200 deaths!

As usual…this was widely reported by the press, by Reuters, VOA as well as expert sites like the highly regarded of the most important sources of infectious disease news globally.

A colleague asked …How many children will have to die in Nigeria?

There are many health problems that are difficult to prevent (e.g Cancers)…and some even more difficult to treat (e.g. AIDS)….

…but here we have an illness that we can prevent by giving our children a vaccination that costs less than a bottle of coca cola and free to the patient in most cases.

When asked how they’ll respond…Mahmud Mustapha, director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency in charge of seven north-western states…is quoted to say … the agency plans to do house-to-house vaccinations in January 2008.

Dear Sir…vaccination campaigns will help…but they will not solve the problem. Until we build a routine vaccination programme that works, in which people have the confidence to bring their children to…we will keep having outbreaks of measles…children will keep dying…and I will have no answer for my collagues to the question…How many children will have to die in Nigeria?

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 “Sad – Yet another Measles outbreak”

dear colleagues
i feel really afraid for our country when we claim a huge level of vaccination coverage in the measle mass campaign some 2-3 years ago.putting vaccine ineffectiveness, our high birth rate, into consideration, it does not give us this level of outbreaks, going by this we dont expect an out-break atleast the next 5-10 years, does that mean that the vaccines were not given or was it that the vaccines were bad ?…… these questions rapidly come to mind. hOW many children would die either rapidly from imediate complications or post measles malnutrition….. (hoping our farm harvest is good )Nigeria is not a country with displaced population,
Why cant we learn from our past mistakes, why are we always in this situations, our are we still blamming it on the societal level of illitracy ? or refusal to accept vaccinations ? or really is there a fundamental problem in how we care and handle issues of public and preventive healthcare in our country ? are we over politicized our systems?
i have just come back from country at war DRC CONGO, and another which had war about ten years ago( ruwanda)
Even in these countries were infacstuctures are almost non existent and peoeple are constantly displaced, illitaracy is high, tribal sentiments and all the rest of the tropical diseases looming….. they understand what is the use of vaccination, and the people responsible care enough for the future of their young ones.
please i think we can do something to prevent this embarrasement to Nigeria

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