The outbreak of Diphtheria has claimed over 400 lives in 17 states of the federation, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC) discloses.
NCDC in conjunction with the National Primary Health Care Development Agency, NPHCDA, explained that 5,299 [73.6 per cent]) of the confirmed cases occurred among children aged 1 – 14 years with those aged 5-14 years bearing most of the brunt of the disease.
In a joint statement, the agencies said that as of September 24th, 2023, there had been 11,587 suspected cases reported from 105 Local Government Areas (LGAs) in 18 States, including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), of which 7,202 were confirmed cases.
They noted that a total of 6,185 of the confirmed cases were recorded in Kano while other States with cases include; Yobe (640), Katsina (213), Borno (95), Kaduna (16), Jigawa (14), Bauchi (8), Lagos (8), FCT (5), Gombe (5), Osun (3), Sokoto (3), Niger (2), Cross River (1), Enugu (1), Imo (1), Nasarawa (1) and Zamfara (1). The majority (5,299 [73.6%]) of the confirmed cases occurred among children aged 1 – 14 years with those aged 5-14 years bearing most of the brunt of the disease.
“So far, a total of 453 deaths have occurred in confirmed cases giving a case fatality rate (CFR) of 6.3 per cent,” they noted.
They further noted that with the escalation of the outbreak and findings that 80 per cent of confirmed cases in the ongoing outbreak were unvaccinated, the Coordinating Minister of Health, Professor Muhammad Ali Pate, has set a national emergency task team co-chaired by the Executive Director of NPHCDA and the Director General of NCDC for higher level coordination of outbreak response efforts.
The team will also ensure optimal collaboration of all relevant health stakeholders in the fight.
Other prominent members of the task force include: Director of Public Health-FMOH, representatives from the Federal Ministry of Information, the World Health Organisation, WHO, the United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF, USCDC, USAID, GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance, other non-governmental organisations and development partners.
Furthermore, the statement noted: “The Federal Ministry of Health & Social Welfare (FMOH&SW) is aware of the mounting concern regarding the recent Diphtheria outbreak across several states in Nigeria. Since the confirmation of the re-emergence of diphtheria in Nigeria in December 2022, the Federal Government of Nigeria through the NCDC and NPHCDA have continued to respond to diphtheria outbreaks across different states in the country.
“Since the confirmation of an outbreak, the FMOH&SW through her agencies has been coordinating surveillance and response activities across the country. These include response coordination, surveillance, laboratory investigation, vaccination, case management, and risk communication activities.
“For the first time for any diphtheria outbreak, the FMOH&SW through NCDC and with WHO support, procured diphtheria antitoxin (DAT) and more recently intravenous erythromycin and distributed them to the affected states.
“With support from partners and in collaboration with the State Ministry of Health, Diphtheria Treatment Centres/Wards have been established in affected States.”
Diphtheria, caused by a toxin produced by the bacteria Corynebacterium diphtheriae, is a vaccine-preventable disease covered by one of the vaccines provided routinely through Nigeria’s childhood immunisation schedule.