FEDERAL Government has called on residents of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, to discard reports claiming the outbreak of meningitis in the seat of power, describing the report as totally untrue and panic induced, stressing that there is no cause for alarm. The director general, National Orientation Agency, NOA, Garba Abari debunked the rumour during a joint press briefing in Abuja between NOA and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, assuring that the Federal Government is working relentlessly to curtail the growing Meningitis anxiety in Abuja and other states. In a statement issued yesterday by the NOA head, Press Unit, Paul Odenyi Abari observed that the recent outbreak of Cerebro-Spinal Meningitis, CSM, and the attendant rising death toll has made it inevitable for the two bodies to collaborate in enhancing citizens’ awareness about prevention and control of the disease, thereby curbing anxiety. He said the partnership would also ensure that government is more proactive in the face of any future unforeseen disease outbreaks, urging Nigerians to diligently practise disease prevention measures to stem the tide of meningitis, including good personal and environmental hygiene, proper waste disposal, avoidance of open defecation, prevention of malnutrition, especially in children, and early seeking of medical attention once signs of ill health are noticed. The national coordinator, NCDC, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu identified two types of meningitis outbreak currently in Nigeria, which he described as the “real outbreak” affecting five states, and the “anxiety outbreak,” particularly affecting Abuja, noting the importance of simultaneously combating the two. While reassuring Nigerians that there is no real outbreak in Abuja or any state outside of Zamfara, Sokoto, Katsina, Kebbi and Niger States, he said the panic generated in Abuja and other States by the disease now calls for a holistic approach to public sensitisation on the disease. Ihekweazu said the NCDC was working with state governments and primary health care centres across the country to boost their capacities, both in diagnosis and response to the current ravaging meningitis Cerebrum C strain which, he said, differs from the Cerebrum A strain that broke out in the country two years ago. He urged the Nigerian private sector to take up the challenge of vaccine production for local disease prevention in line with world best practices, pledging that government would provide the enabling environment in order to ensure better preparedness against disease outbreaks in the country.

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