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Over 600 died of diphtheria in 10 months – FG

Diphtheria killed no fewer than 600 persons since the beginning of the current outbreak in December 2022, the Executive Director of the National Primary Healthcare…

Diphtheria killed no fewer than 600 persons since the beginning of the current outbreak in December 2022, the Executive Director of the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr Faisal Shuaib, has said.

He stated this yesterday in Abuja during the third quarter 2023 review meeting of the Northern Traditional Leaders Committee (NTLC) on primary health care delivery.

He said over 14,000 suspected cases had been recorded during the period with over 10,000 of them recorded in Kano.

He said the disease had spread to 19 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) with over 97% of cases recorded in Kano, Yobe, Katsina, Borno, Kaduna and Bauchi states.

Shuaib said the federal government would launch the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines on October 24, adding that the NPHCDA would embark on a comprehensive campaign to introduce HPV vaccines in schools and healthcare centers.

At the event, the Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Prof Muhammad Ali Pate, said the federal government was committed to bringing the diphtheria outbreak under control and had established the Diphtheria Emergency Task Team to quickly tackle it.

He said the country has made a lot of progress on polio immunization but that a lot of work still needed to be done in tackling circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus, and zero-dose children.

The Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar III, thanked the members of the committee for their work and enjoined them to double their efforts.

He also thanked the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Aliko Dangote Foundation and other partners for supporting the committee with funds.

NTLC Chairman, Alhaji Sama’ila Muhammad Mera, said the meeting was aimed at reviewing all the PHC activities conducted from July to October this year, adding that it is also an opportunity to assess their progress, identify areas of improvement, and chart a course for the future.

Also yesterday, the Executive Director of NPHCDA revealed that Kaduna State had recorded 156 confirmed cases of diphtheria with 20 reported deaths.

Shuaib, who also serves as the Co-Chair of the Federal Task Team on Diphtheria, made this announcement during the team’s visit to Kaduna on Wednesday after inspecting the Kaduna Diphtheria Treatment Centre at the Barau Dikko Teaching Hospital.

He told newsmen that since the detection of the diphtheria outbreak in March, approximately 156 cases and 20 deaths had been recorded so far across the state.

He emphasized the importance of early presentation by patients and the necessity of vaccinating their contacts.

He emphasized that vaccines were the most effective tools against vaccine-preventable diseases and commended the state government’s efforts in combating the outbreak.

Shuaib also encouraged the public to wear face masks, particularly when visiting healthcare facilities, to help control the spread of the disease.


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