The Sultan of Sokoto, His Eminence, Sa’ad Abubakar lll is assuring parents and caregivers across Nigeria, not to link the outbreak of the Monkey pox to immunization against vaccine-preventable diseases as government and partners, including World Health Organization (WHO) are working to rapidly contain spread of the disease.

Monkeypox Image/CDC
Monkeypox Image/CDC

Sultan Abubakar Ill made the plea when he led the Northern Traditional Leaders Committee on Primary Healthcare (NTLC) on a courtesy visit to the Governor of Nasarawa state on 17 October, 2017.

The NTLC converged in Lafia, the Nasarawa state capital for the 3rd quarterly meeting to review progress on polio eradication and routine immunization.

Since the initial announcement of suspected cases of Monkey pox virus from Bayelsa, a total of 74 suspected cases have been reported (as of 17th October, 2017) including those from other states (Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Ekiti, Lagos, Enugu, Nasarawa, Rivers and Federal Capital Territory). Out of the suspected cases, only three have been confirmed by the WHO Regional Reference Laboratory in Dakar, Senegal (all in Bayelsa). No deaths have been recorded out of the cases reported

“The issue is already generating vaccine hesitancy among some ethnic groups but we want to assure all that we believe in the efficacy of vaccines and they are safe”, Sultan Abubakar lll assured.

He lamented that mischief makers are using the outbreak to instill fear, raise suspicion and create doubt about vaccines safety, adding that immunization is not a personal but a community issue and when one child is not vaccinated, it “puts other children at risk of infection by vaccine-preventable diseases”.

Moreover, the Sultan and  NTLC expressed concern that data from 18 states that are conducting the October round of the sub National Immunization Plus Days indicate non-compliance among communities that hitherto trusted vaccine efficacy.

Monkey pox is largely a self-limiting disease, from which all suspected patients that have been reported to date are doing well clinically. Measures that can be taken to prevent infection with Monkey poxvirus include avoiding contact with monkeys, squirrels, rats and similar animals, especially when these animals are sick or found dead in areas where the Monkey pox virus is circulating. Furthermore, ensuring infection prevention measures to curb human to human transmission is critical.