Measles outbreak claims 100 lives in NE Nigeria
Health officials said 20,879 cases of measles were recorded in the states of Borno and Yobe, in Nigeria's restive northeast region, since January.
The disease, a leading killer in developing countries like Nigeria, is showing a steady rise especially in Borno, where the Boko Haram terror group has held sway in the last 10 years, according to a survey by the official News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).
In Borno, where the highest number of cases was recorded, security challenges made it difficult to address the situation, officials said.
Sule Mele, head of the Borno State Primary Healthcare Development Agency, said a total of 18,204 measles cases were recorded in the state, with 93 deaths, mostly children, since the beginning of the year.
Mele attributed the spread of the disease to the inability of internally displaced persons (IDPs) to access healthcare services due to fighting between security forces and Boko Haram.
There is a high prevalence of the disease in "trapped" communities due to the lack of access to vaccination, he said.
The primary healthcare agency has scaled up activities to enhance surveillance, case management, laboratory services, social mobilization and vaccination in some affected areas in spite of the challenges, Mele said.
Yobe, another flashpoint of conflicts between security forces and Boko Haram, recorded 2,675 cases of measles, with seven deaths, said Haruna Umaru, a disease surveillance and notification officer in the state.
Measles is a highly contagious, serious childhood disease caused by a virus. Most measles-related deaths are caused by complications associated with the disease.
Immunization has remained one of the most effective ways to protect children from the killer disease. Children of ages six months to 10 years are targeted for immunization against measles in Nigeria.
The United Nations Children's Fund and the World Health Organization have been providing technical support for the immunization efforts across the country.