North Leads as Diphtheria Kills 83 in Nigeria

The National Primary Health Care Development Agency (PHCDA) has confirmed that the outbreak of Diphtheria in the country has affected eight states, with the northern region topping the list.

In a press briefing on Monday in Abuja, the Executive Director of PHCDA, Dr Fisal Shuaib, noted that the Kano, Kaduna, Katsina and Yobe states including Abuja were among those affected by the current outbreak which had killed 83 persons across the country.

The cases, he noted, were reported between May 2022 and July 2023 with 2,455 suspected cases reported across 26 states of the federation.

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“From May 2022 to July 2023, an estimated 2,455 suspected cases have been reported in 26 states. As of July 27, 2023, 836 of these cases have been confirmed in 33 local government areas across eight states: Cross River, Kano, Katsina, Kaduna, Lagos, Osun, Yobe, and FCT”
With 83 deaths, the executive director emphasized the need for vaccination against the diseases,” he said. “Tragically, 83 deaths have been reported from these confirmed cases, making vaccination against this deadly disease critically important, especially for our children.”

Shuaib noted that the federal government has made cost-effective vaccination available across the country. He also lamented that a reasonable number of children still remain unvaccinated in the country, which has slowed the effort of the government in managing the disease in the country.

Outlining the response plans of the government, Shuaib said the response would be carried out in two phases. The first, he said would be an immediate response in 25 local government areas across Bauchi, Katsina, Yobe, and Kaduna states.

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The second phase, according to him, would cover response in 171 local government areas in the country. A state-wide response will be conducted in Kano, Katsina, FCT, Yobe, Kaduna, and Bauchi States, while targeted outbreak responses will be conducted, according to him, in LGAs across Jigawa (8), Borno (4), Osun (4), Lagos (3), Zamfara (3), Gombe (3), Plateau (1), and Nasarawa (1).

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“The first round will commence on August 21, 2023, followed by the second (2nd) and third (3rd) rounds tentatively set for September 18, 2023, and October 16, 2023, respectively. Each of these three rounds will span five days,” he said.

United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Nigeria Chief of Health, Eduardo Celades, also noted that 70 per cent of children infected [in Nigeria] by diphtheria were more than two years old, and 80 per cent had not been immunised or had not finished immunisation.


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