By Asmau Ahmad
The Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of the National Primary Health Care Agency, Dr Faisal Shuaib, said 19 states and the Federal Capital Territory have recorded over 14,000 suspected cases of diphtheria so far.
He, however, disclosed that over 10,000 of the cases occurred in Kano State, which is the epicentre of the outbreak.
Dr Shuaib noted that 97 per cent of the cases were recorded in Kano, Yobe, Katsina, Borno, Kaduna and Bauchi states with over 600 deaths.
The NPHCDA boss disclosed this at the quarterly review meeting of the Northern Traditional Leaders Committee in Abuja.
According to him, 73 per cent of the reported diphtheria cases occur in children aged one to 14 years, while 80 per cent of those affected have not received any vaccination.
He said the update underscores the dire need for the NTLC and stakeholders to intensify community mobilisation, awakening public awareness and fostering acceptance of vaccination services.
“At the peak of the outbreak, the Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare established the Diphtheria Emergency Task Team with the objective of bringing the outbreak under control. One of his charges was to involve the NTLC in the response effort.
“I am happy to report that in my field visit across Borno, Yobe, Jigawa and Kano States, the royal highnesses have been up and doing engaging their communities to ensure they are well informed about the importance of vaccination,” he added.
Meanwhile, Dr Shuaibu, who is also the Co-Chairman of the Presidential Task Force Team on Diphtheria, was also at the Kaduna Diphtheria Treatment Centre at Barau Dikko Teaching Hospital.
In a chat with journalists, he said Kaduna State had156 cases of which 20 patients had died.
“When you live at the local government areas where the cases are rising, it’s very important that you recognise that this an airborne disease and just like we did during COVID-19, we should use facemasks,” he said,