HealthNewsNigeriaDiphtheria: Nigeria Records 83 Deaths, 836 Confirmed Cases

Nigeria has recorded 83 deaths and 836 confirmed cases of diphtheria since the beginning of 2023.

Executive Director, The National Primary Health Care Development (NPHCDA), Faisal Shuaib disclosed this on Monday in Abuja during a news briefing on the diphtheria outbreak response.

He said a significant number of children remained unvaccinated or partially vaccinated, thereby compromising the country’s goal of achieving population immunity, despite efforts of the Federal Government to provide safe and cost-effective vaccines for diphtheria.

“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.

“Tragically, 83 deaths have been reported from these confirmed cases, making vaccination against this deadly disease critically important, especially for our children,” he said.

Shuaib explained that the response to the ongoing diphtheria outbreak would be carried out in two phases with the first phase that would encompass 25 local government areas across Bauchi, Katsina, Yobe and Kaduna States.

He stated that the first phase would begin on August 7 and end on August 11, while the second phase would cover outbreak response in 171 local government areas.

“Kano, Katsina, FCT, Yobe, Kaduna, and Bauchi States would have a state-wide outbreak response; while there would be targeted outbreak responses in LGAs across Jigawa (8 LGAs), Borno (4), Osun (4), Lagos (3), Zamfara (3), Gombe (3), Plateau (1) and Nasarawa (1).

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

In a remark, UNICEF Nigeria Chief of Health, Eduardo Celades, said 70 percent of children affected by diphtheria in Nigeria were over two years old and 80 percent were either not vaccinated or had not completed vaccination.

Walter Kazadi Mulombo, WHO Nigeria Country Representative, said the NCDC requested it to procure Diphtheria Antitoxin and erythromycin IV for the case management of diphtheria cases.

He said “1800 vials of DAT were expected to arrive in the country on August 2 and erythromycin in one to two weeks, pending government authorization.

“WHO was working with the NPHCDA to organise the first phase of vaccination campaign targeting children from zero to 14 years old in four states and that WHO would support it with N92m”

Hassan Umar Shallpella (Regional Correspondent)
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