As the threat of monkeypox looms globally, public health authorities in Adamawa state have intensified awareness campaigns to control the ongoing outbreak in Nigeria.
The State Ministry of Health, in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO), has initiated a sensitization campaign through WHO-trained community health educators (champions) to increase the awareness of the disease amongst residents of the state.
To improve surveillance and strengthen public health measures of the disease, WHO supported the state in training 21 community health champions to go from house to house, raising awareness of the disease.
The monkeypox sensitization campaign held in Yola north from July 28, 2022, to August 2, 2022, 3,780 households have been covered, and over 26,000 people sensitized in three LGAs.
The campaign is part of the measures to ensure the prevention and early detection of the disease across all communities.
The community head (Mai Angwa) of Ajya settlement in Yola metropolis, Alhaji Musa Tsoho appreciated the effort to sensitize the people about the disease as he claimed to have little knowledge of it.
“On many occasions, I have heard the stories of people infected with monkeypox, but I have never seen anyone with the disease. I also did not know the symptoms of the disease or how they contract it.
“But with the awareness campaign by the community health champions, I now know better and intend to leverage the knowledge garnered to make informed decisions to protect myself and my family members and educate my friends about the disease,” he said.
Monkeypox is a zoonotic (transferred from animals to humans) viral disease, previously known to have been confined to the tropical rainforests of Central and West Africa but now reported in several European, Asian countries and the United States.
The disease has become the next biggest scare for the world after COVID-19, with the WHO closely monitoring the outbreak. At present (25th July), 16,016 confirmed cases of Monkeypox have been reported in 75 countries.
Nigeria has reported 357 suspected and 133 confirmed cases from January to 24 July 2022. Meanwhile, in Adamawa State, 83 suspected cases, with 11 confirmed cases, were reported in four Local Government Areas (LGAs).
Applauding WHO for the support, the Adamawa State Health Education Officer, Mr Nuhu Yahaya, said the campaign is necessary to intensify health risk messaging on the prevention of monkeypox, and other epidemic-prone diseases is key to breaking community transmission.
“The community health champions are working across the hotspot LGAs and ensure people of the community understands what to do to protect themselves and their loved ones.
“The team would also use the opportunity to encourage the community members on the importance of receiving the COVID-19 vaccination at the nearest health facility,” he said.
The WHO Northeast Emergency Manager, Dr Richard Lako, reiterated the importance of continuous dissemination of health risk messages among the vulnerable persons.
He said effective communication of risk messages would help reduce disease transmission among the communities as they will be equipped to make better choices to prevent diseases outbreaks.
He said with funding support from Germany, USAID, and ECHO, WHO continues to support Borno, Adamawa and Yobe (BAY) states governments to respond to diseases burden and increase risk messages in the states.
“The community health champions are equipped with adequate knowledge to provide real-time health messages on the prevention of monkeypox at the community level.
“And currently, the team have found and referred one suspected case of monkey pox to the nearby functional health facility, through the Disease Surveillance Notification Officer (DSNO),” he said.