Diphtheria has killed 83 Nigerians with 836 confirmed cases since the beginning of this year.
The Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency NPHCDA, Faisal Shuaib revealed this on Monday in Abuja during.
“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.”
Shuaib said even with the Federal Government efforts to provide safe and cost-effective vaccines for diphtheria, a significant number of children remained unvaccinated or partially vaccinated, thereby compromising the country’s goal of achieving population immunity.
According to the NPHCDA director, response to the ongoing diphtheria outbreak would be carried out in two phases, with the first phase 1 and immediate response would encompass 25 local government areas across Bauchi, Katsina, Yobe and Kaduna States.
He said this phase would begin on August 7 and end on August 11, adding that phase 2 would cover outbreak response in 171 local government areas.
He listed Kano, Katsina, FCT, Yobe, Kaduna, and Bauchi States as states that would have a state-wide outbreak response; adding that 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.
WHO Nigeria Country Representative, Walter Kazadi Mulombo said the NCDC asked it to supply Diphtheria Antitoxin and erythromycin IV for the case management.
Mulombo said 1,800 vials of DAT would be imported into the country on August 2 and erythromycin in one to two weeks, pending government authorization.
The 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 N92 million he said
The 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.