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Diphtheria claim 83 lives in Nigeria



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The National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) has revealed that not less than 83 persons have died of diphtheria disease between May 2022 to July 2023 in Nigeria.

According to NPHCDA Executive Director, Dr Faisal Shuaib, the country recorded an estimated 2,455 suspected cases in 26 states. adsbygoogle || []).push({});

Briefing newsmen on the Ongoing Outbreak of Diphtheria in Nigeria, Dr Shuaib said out of the suspected cases, 836 were confirmed in 33 Local Government Areas (LGAs) across eight states, and 83 persons died. The states were Cross River, Kano, Katsina, Kaduna, Lagos, Osun, Yobe, and Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

THE NPHCDA boss noted that the disease is totally preventable through vaccination.

According to him, in Nigeria, pentavalent vaccines are used to protect against diphtheria and are administered to children at 6 weeks, 10 weeks, and 14 weeks of age, with additional doses being given during campaigns.

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“Despite the efforts of the Federal Government to provide safe and cost-effective vaccines, a significant number of children remain unvaccinated or partially vaccinated, compromising the country’s goal of achieving population immunity.

“Suboptimal vaccination coverage has been the main factor contributing to these outbreaks, with the most affected age group being those between 2-14 years.

“The NPHCDA, in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Health, NCDC, the states, and our partners, is mobilizing all necessary resources to respond effectively to this outbreak”, he said.

Also, NPHCDA said it is working with the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and other partners and the affected states to conduct intensified mass vaccinations for identified at-risk populations, administering Tetanus TD for children four to 14 years and pentavalent vaccines for children under four years.

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According to them, “A comprehensive response plan has been activated to detect cases early, contain the spread, and prevent further transmission through a multi-phased strategy.

“The agency’s response to the ongoing diphtheria outbreak will be carried out in two phases”, he noted.

He said the phase one covers LGAs across four states of Bauchi, Katsina, Yobe, and Kaduna, while phase two covers outbreak response in 171 LGAs in six states: Kano, Katsina, FCT, Yobe, Kaduna, and Bauchi.

“There will also be targeted outbreak responses in LGAs across eight states, which are Jigawa (8 LGAs), Borno (4 LGAs), Osun (4 LGAs), Lagos (3 LGAs), Zamfara (3 LGAs), Gombe (3 LGAs), Plateau (1 LGA), and and others”, he said.

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Shuaib added that adherence to proper hygiene practices is crucial in preventing the spread of diphtheria. Simple yet effective measures like hand hygiene, good cough etiquette, environmental cleaning, eating nutritious meals, and isolating and quarantining suspected cases can significantly reduce the risk of infection.

Diphtheria is a highly contagious vaccine-preventable disease caused by the bacterium Corynebacterium diphtheria, mainly spread through direct contact with an infected person or exposure to airborne droplets. It poses a severe risk to people of all ages, particularly our children.

It primarily affects the respiratory system, and symptoms include fever, cough, runny nose, sore throat, neck swelling, and breathing difficulties.
He said, if left untreated, the symptoms can lead to death, with a higher risk for partially vaccinated or unvaccinated children in crowded and unsanitary areas.

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