WHO approves UNTH, UITH for meningitis, diarrhoea lab testing
As part of efforts to control the spread of meningitis and diarrhoea in the country, the Federal Government in collaboration with World Health organization (WHO) has approved University Teaching Hospital (UNTH) Enugu and the University Teaching Hospital (UITH) Ilorin as sentinel sites for surveillance of the diseases.
The surveillance would focus on rotavirus diarrhea and pediatric bacterial meningitis/cerebro spinal meningitis (CSM) in children. Rotavirus is a contagious virus that causes gastroenteritis (inflammation of the stomach and intestines).
Symptoms include severe watery diarrhoea, often with vomiting, fever, and abdominal pain. Infants and young children are most likely to get rotavirus disease.
Executive Director and Chief Executive, National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr. Faisal Shuaib told journalist at the weekend that the findings from the sites would help in information sharing and data collection on rotavirus and pneumococcal disease burden and impact of the vaccine introduction into routine immunization, which will guide public health policy and interventions.
He said although the Federal Government and WHO operated five sentinel sites for new vaccines surveillance in the country, only UNTH Enugu and UITH Ilorin had been designated as sentinel sites for rotavirus and other diarrhea–related diseases among children below five years old.
Faisal said that data generated from the sentinel would be used to determine the burden of various organisms causing diarrhea or meningitis, the impact of Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine (PCV), newly introduced into routine immunization schedule and providing baseline data for different serotypes of rotavirus and other diarrhea causing pathogen diseases before the planned rotavirus vaccine introduction in 2018.
He assured that government would continue to work closely with the teaching hospitals in Enugu and Ilorin and other sentinel sites and partners to further reduce morbidity and mortality from vaccine preventable diseases.
He said the three other universities serving as sentinel sites for only Pediatric Bacterial Meningitis (PBM) are the University Teaching Hospital Benin, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University Teaching Hospital Bauchi and Lagos University Teaching Hospital Lagos.
Faisal added that the Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH) first introduced new vaccine surveillance site at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital in June, 2009 while the NPHCDA proposed the expansion of the sites thereafter, following technical support given by the WHO in view of the introduction of some new vaccines such as Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine (PCV).