Diphtheria: Nigeria Records 836 Cases, 83 Deaths In Eight States

The National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) has said that no fewer than 836 cases of diphtheria have been confirmed in 33 Local Government Areas (LGAs) across eight states: Cross River, Kano, Katsina, Kaduna, Lagos, Osun, Yobe, and FCT.

Executive Director of NPHCDA, Dr. Faisal Shuaib disclosed this on Monday, July 31, 2023 in Abuja, at a press conference on the diphtheria outbreak in Nigeria.

Shuaib further disclosed that 83 deaths had been reported from the confirmed cases, making vaccination against the deadly disease critically important, especially for children.

He also said that, 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.

The NPHCDA Boss added that suboptimal vaccination coverage had been the main factor contributing to these outbreaks, with the most affected age group being those between 2 to 14 years.

He however, disclosed that the NPHCDA, in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Health, NCDC, the states, and their partners, was mobilising all necessary resources to respond effectively to the outbreak, adding that comprehensive response plan had been activated to detect cases early, contain the spread, and prevent further transmission through a multi-phased strategy.

“To facilitate our immediate response plan, we are leveraging surveillance data from NCDC and direct information from the states to ensure effective planning and resource deployment.

“The Agency is working closely with partners to ensure adequate supplies of Tetanus Td for children 4 to 14 years and Pentavalent vaccines for children under 4 years.

“Currently, we are collaborating with the affected state teams and other stakeholders to conduct intensified mass vaccinations for identified at-risk populations in the affected states, administering pentavalent and tetanus & diphtheria vaccines.

“Additionally, we are conducting awareness campaigns to educate the public about the disease, its symptoms, and preventive measures.”

“The response to the ongoing diphtheria outbreak will be carried out in two phases. Phase 1, the immediate response, will encompass 25 Local Government Areas (LGAs) across four States: Bauchi, Katsina, Yobe, and Kaduna.

“This phase is scheduled to begin on the 7th of August 2023 and will continue until the 11th of August 2023.”

“Phase 2 will cover outbreak response in 171 LGAs. Six States (Kano, Katsina, FCT, Yobe, Kaduna, and Bauchi) will have a state-wide outbreak response, while there will be targeted outbreak responses in LGAs across eight States: Jigawa (8 LGAs), Borno (4 LGAs), Osun (4 LGAs), Lagos (3 LGAs), Zamfara (3 LGAs), Gombe (3 LGAs), Plateau (1 LGA), and Nasarawa (1 LGA).”

“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.”

“The vaccination campaign will utilize both fixed and mobile teams. Parents and caregivers are therefore urged to take their children, from birth to 14 years, to nearby health facilities for vaccination with the pentavalent or Td vaccines and other age-appropriate vaccines”, he said.

On his part, World Health Organisation (WHO) Representative in Nigeria, Dr. Walter Kazadi Mulombo, informed that WHO was working with NPHCDA to organise the first phase of a vaccination campaign targeting children from 0 to 14 years old in four states, and it would support with 92 million naira.

Mulombo also said WHO was requested by NCDC to procure DAT and erythromycin IV for the case management of diphtheria cases. 1800 vials of DAT were also expected to arrive in the country on 2nd August, and erythromycin in 1-2 weeks, pending government authorisation.

“These health commodities are essential for saving lives and reducing the sequelae in the affected patients, thus need to be prepositioned in the country and ready to be deployed to the states in need.”

“This weekend NCDC requested support from WHO for the deployment of 18 rapid response teams to support Bauchi, Kaduna, and Katsina response.”

“The deployment process is underway following the requested profile, and a mix of the workforce from the Nigeria Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training Programme (NFELTP), Avoc-SURGE, and WHO staff will be used.”

“WHO’s team is on the ground in Yobe and Kano, improving surveillance at health facility and community level, supporting the active case search, and assisting with the decentralized isolation centres and referral to the state reference treatment centres, in alignment with State Ministry of Health request and NCDC guidance.”

“WHO is supporting FCT in conducting an integrated Active Case Search and Household Sensitization in FCT, optimizing the opportunity for the fIPV + nOPV2 RI intensification campaign.”

“WHO is supporting the procurement of laboratory commodities to increase the result turnaround time to support the case definition and management at an early stage.” He said.

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