A researcher, Uzal Umar has called for better approaches by government and other stakeholders in preventing and curtailing meningitis outbreak in the country.
Umar who is also a lecturer in the Department of Microbiology, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi in an interview with Daily Trust, said Cerebrospinal Meningitis was among the vaccine preventable diseases (VPD) adding that the fact that the country has lost over 400 people to the disease in this modern age was a sad reminder of how much needed to be done to make Nigeria a developed country.
He said: “It is heartening to note the reactive response of the government towards curtailing the spread of the infection. Reports have it that, 500,000 doses of vaccine against Neisseria meningitidis Serogroup C (The strain causing the present meningitis outbreak) have been imported from India and Britain. Yes this is a stop gap measure and may be successful in curtailing the spread of the germ and resulting death in the short run. But what happens in the long run?”
The researcher said that even in ideal situations vaccine developed against a particular strain has recorded failures and vaccine deployment was required to cover a certain percentage of the population to be effective saying he does not aim to elaborate on records of vaccine failure but to point out that vaccine development is a dynamic event.
He said it was time for the country to do the needful to prevent future occurrences. According to him, Nigeria urgently requires detailed and robust experimental data in the following areas:
The search of immunogen that would elicit antibody that would provide protection against broad serogroup/serotypes of the meningococci.
The development of conjugate vaccine as is applied in pneumonia caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae.
Investigating strains dynamics that may arise from the use of vaccines– this will require detailed molecular investigation and characterization of invasive and noninvasive strains of N. meningitidis prevalent in Nigeria.
He said a new strain causing outbreak can only come from existing strains or introduced from elsewhere.
“It is also important to look at host impact that may have influenced the outbreak by the new strain. All these will require some intensive scientific research, especially at the molecular level, that will keep us ahead of the evolving population of the causal organism.
“Information generated can be subjected to mathematical modeling of spread as impacted by season , host age , rate of mutation within a serogroup in the years to come so as to fully understand , simulate , analyze the progression of infectious disease and to know whether an epidemic could occur with a strain or not,” said Umar.
This may serve as a template for understudying bacteria involved in epidemic outbreaks and that were vaccine preventable, as well as putting science to work for us, he added.
Source: Daily Trust