The Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Professor Muhammad Ali Pate has constituted an Emergency Taskforce to curb Diphtheria Outbreak in the country.
Special Assistant to the Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Media and External Relations, Tashikalmah Hallah who disclosed the development in a statement issued on Thursday, September 14, 2023, informed that Diphtheria cases had been detected in 14 states, with Kano as the epicenter.
Hallah further disclosed that the Taskforce was to be co-chaired by the Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr. Faisal Shuaib, and the Director General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr. Ifedayo Adetifa.
Other members of the Taskforce included the director of Public Health in the Federal Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, Dr. Anyaike Chukwuma, representatives from the World Health Organisation (WHO), United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), Federal Ministry of Information and the Northern Traditional Leaders Committee on Primary Healthcare Delivery (NTLC).
The Taskforce, the Minister explained was to operate in an emergency mode to forestall the further spread of the disease to other states and bring succour to the populace:
“There should be massive mobilisation and sensitization. This is where the NTLC is critical. Our people should be aware of the disease, the dangers inherent in and what they need to do. We must mount a rapid response as our children are returning to school.
“I am also glad that the ED NPHCDA has shelved his trip to the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), meetings in New York, to lead the rapid response team to Kano the epicenter of the crisis”, Prof. Pate said.
The 14 infected states are Lagos, Osun, Federal Captial Territory, Plateau, Nassarawa, Kaduna, Katsina, Yobe, Bauchi, Gombe, Borno, Zamfara, Jigawa, and Kano.
The Coordinating Minister also stated that the Taskforce team should liaise with the Governors of the 14 infected States for counterpart funding, ownership, and mass mobilisation.
Also, UNICEF procured 1.2 million vials as support to the Federal Government’s response to the outbreak. Dr. Rownak Khan, UNICEF Representative said in a meeting with the Coordinating Minister of Health and Social and Welfare, Prof Muhammad Ali Pate.
According to her, “We had a productive meeting with the Minister of Health, Prof. Muhammad Ali Pate, earlier today, and I want to affirm UNICEF’s unwavering commitment to supporting the government’s comprehensive response to the diphtheria outbreak.
“I’m pleased to announce that UNICEF, on behalf of the government, has procured 1.2 million vials of the vaccine which have arrived in Nigeria earlier today. These will be immediately dispatched to Kano, which is at the heart of this outbreak. Our collective aim is to safeguard the health and future of every child in Nigeria”, She said.
Diphtheria is a highly contagious disease that’s spread through airborne droplets or contaminated personal items.