Niger: successful meningitis workshop

by Simone Winneg/SRI, 2009/08/17

A few months ago, in April, epidemic meningitis posed a threat to the lives of thousands of people in Niger. Thanks to the support of the German Federal Foreign Office, humedica could organise a vaccination campaign and help fighting the epidemic. However, also prophylactic measures can be taken in order to prevent the dangerous disease from spreading.

Mobile medical teams of humedica have essentially contributed to preventing the epidemic from spreading further in the district of Kollo and at the same time they have taken prophylactic measures for the future: 43,000 persons were vaccinated within a period of two months.

Every attendant received a certificate and a meningitis emergency kit from the humedica team managed by Simone Winneg. Photo: humedica

Vaccination campaigns are a good means of fighting an epidemic once it has broken out. But even before this phase there are some steps that can be taken: for example the health stations in the surrounding area need to be strengthened and staff there needs to be trained in particular regarding the direct dealing with the epidemic. Therefore, this week we invited the representatives of every health station in the district to come to Kollo in order to take part in our meningitis workshop.

23 persons from the surrounding villages as well as the medical staff of the hospital accepted our invitation to the one-day workshop. Thanks to the generous support of the Federal Foreign Office we were able to pass on basic information about meningitis, its treatment, vaccinations and risks, as well as about correct dealing with statistics.

The attendants listened intently to the explanations of Dr Yacouba and Dr Habibou whose presentations were highly descriptive thanks to the use of modern media and the doctors assessed the participants’ current knowledge during question sessions, discussions and by means of a questionnaire with the objective of clearing any questions or doubts.

During this workshop the knowledge of nurses from rural areas has been refreshed and hence their abilities of recognising an epidemic on time and of taking corresponding action have been improved substantially.

However, the team did not only pass on information, but also provided the participants of the workshop with a little emergency kit for the case of an outbreak of epidemic meningitis: essential hygiene articles such as soap, medical face masks and gloves, as well as several doses of the life-saving drugs were distributed to every health station.

Furthermore, the participants received a folder containing a conclusion of all relevant information which they can use for their studies and to aid their memory. The participants were highly pleased about this extraordinary commitment demonstrated by humedica.

On their behalf I would like to thank all our donors and the German Federal Foreign Office, who have made this commitment possible.

Yours sincerely,
Simone Winneg

The first meningitis workshop organised by humedica in Niger was attended by 23 persons. Photo: humedica

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