The World Health Organisation, on Thursday, said Nigeria currently has the highest monkey pox death toll and confirmed cases in Africa.
The organisation’s Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, disclosed this during a virtual press briefing tagged, ‘Road to defeating Meningitis by 2030.’
Moeti said the majority of monkeypox cases are in Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Ghana.
She said, “For monkeypox, there are now 524 confirmed cases and 12 deaths across 11 African countries.
“The majority of cases are in Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Ghana. Of the 12 deaths, six occurred in Nigeria, four in Ghana, and two in the Central African Republic.
Although no single monkeypox vaccine has been administered to any high-risk group in any of the African countries reporting cases, WHO has provided 39,000 test kits to countries, enabling improved testing rates.”
Monkeypox is a rare viral zoonotic infectious disease (i.e. an infection transmitted from animals to humans) that occurs sporadically, primarily in remote villages of Central and West Africa, near tropical rainforests.
According to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, the exact reservoir of monkeypox is unknown although African rodents are suspected to play a part in transmission.
The latest data from the NCDC showed that as of August 14, there were 530 suspected cases with 220 confirmed cases in the country.
A medical expert, Dr Julian Ojebo, in an interview with The PUNCH, said there was a need for increased awareness about the disease across the country.
Ojebo said, “The government should increase awareness in the print and broadcast media; they should increase awareness campaign everywhere, including the rural areas using the traditional and leaders.
“People should know the signs and symptoms; they should increase the surveillance rate for early detection. There should also be treatment centres dedicated to the disease to avoid stigmatisation.” Also, a medical laboratory scientist at the Department of Microbiology, Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital, Nnewi, Anambra State, Obinna Chukwudi, said, “The health system is weak and the government should strengthen it by investing resources into the health sector.
“When all is made available, it will be easier in combating epidemics effectively.”