New films show the impact of yellow fever outbreaks in Taraba state and global efforts to eliminate yellow fever epidemics by 2026.
“I lost my second child to yellow fever.
It was a very traumatic experience for me and my family,” explains Muhammed Awal, a father of five from Taraba state.
"We rushed the boy to the hospital when he started showing symptoms of the disease, and he died two or three days later, because his internal organs were so damaged."
Muhammed describes the tragedy of his family and the efforts to ensure the protection of the rest of his children in one of the two films commissioned by the Strategy to Eliminate Yellow Fever Epidemics or EYE.
EYE's goal is to eliminate yellow fever epidemics by 2026, through a single-shot vaccine that provides lifelong immunity and aims to protect nearly one billion people in Africa and the Americas.
In 2016, deadly outbreaks of yellow fever in Angola and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, with spread to China, put the African continent on alert for this disease.
The EYE Strategy, a partnership between the World Health Organization, UNICEF and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, was established in response and identified Nigeria as a high-risk country.
Nigeria's population is around 200 million people, with 160 million people at risk of yellow fever.
This represents about 25% of all people at risk in Africa.
Yellow fever is a virus transmitted by infected mosquitoes.
Dr. Anne Eudes Jean Baptiste, a medical officer at the World Health Organization in Nigeria, explains that “yellow fever is dangerous because a small percentage of patients will go through a more toxic phase of the disease.
By then they will experience a fever, they will have failures in the systems, mainly in the kidney and liver.
They may experience bleeding from the mouth, nose and eyes and within 7 to 10 days, half of them will die."
Home to some of the most densely populated cities in the world, Nigeria is at risk of both urban and sylvatic (jungle) exposure to the disease.
Jungle exposure is the transmission of yellow fever by mosquitoes that have bitten animals and nonhuman primates.
Workers in mining and agriculture are particularly vulnerable to this type of transmission.
In 2017, there was a resurgence of yellow fever in Nigeria after 15 years.
This is due to gaps in disease detection rather than lack of virus transmission and the cyclical nature of sylvatic transmission.
As surveillance and laboratory testing became stronger, better information became available on the distribution of the disease in humans.
Dr. Ifedayo M.
O Adetifa, Director General of the Nigerian Center for Disease Control, explains: “We have greatly strengthened surveillance.
We have reference laboratories in the country that have been strengthened and are being supported and evaluated to ensure that they meet all performance parameters in terms of sample collection and referral to our reference laboratories in Abuja.” “Despite the current COVID-19 pandemic, we have administered more than 66 million doses* in 2020 and 2021 to protect people from yellow fever outbreaks.
This achievement has been made possible through routine immunization as well as mass vaccination campaigns that identify gaps in the population and proactively target vulnerable communities.” Dr. Adetifa appears in a second film documenting the launch of a vaccination campaign in Taraba State and shedding light on the global effort needed to keep Nigerians safe.
*This number was estimated at the time of filming.
The actual number of preventive and reactive mass vaccination campaigns is 45 million during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Both films can be viewed here: Yellow Fever: A Community Story - an EYE Strategy Film - YouTube Yellow Fever Vaccination Campaign, Taraba State, Nigeria - an EYE Strategy Film - YouTube An infographic on the Nigeria's recent history with yellow fever can be found here: Yellow Fever Infographic Results Report 2020-2021 - YouTube More information on the EYE Strategy and yellow fever can be found here: Yellow Fever (who.int) Eliminate Yellow Fever Epidemics (EYE) Strategy 2017-2026 (who.int)