By Iyemah David
The Federal Government of Nigeria has established an emergency task force to tackle the menace, as more states come under diphtheria in the country.
Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Professor Muhammad Ali Pate, who announced this on Thursday in Abuja, said that the target was to curb the spread of the disease that had been detected in 14 states, with Kano as the epicentre.
He listed the states to include Lagos, Osun, FCT, Nassarawa, Kaduna, Katsina and Yobe, Bauchi, Gombe, Borno, Zamfara, Jigawa and Kano.
According to the minister, the task force will be co-chaired by Dr Faisal Shuaib, Executive Director, National Primary Health Care Development Agency, and Dr Ifedayo Adetifa, Director-General, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control.
Other members include Dr Anyaike Chukwuma, the ministry’s Director in charge of public health.
Also, to be represented on the team are the World Health Organisation, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), information ministry and the Northern Traditional Leaders Committee on Primary Healthcare Delivery (NTLC).
The minister said that the primary objective of the task force was to operate in an emergency mode to prevent further spread of diphtheria to other states and provide relief to affected communities.
He underscored the need for extensive mobilisation and sensitisation efforts, particularly through the involvement of NTLC.
“The public must be aware of the disease, its inherent dangers, and the necessary preventive measures, especially with children returning to school,” he said.
The minister emphasised the need for the task force to collaborate with state governors to secure counterpart funding, foster ownership and facilitate mass mobilisation efforts.
Diphtheria is a highly contagious disease transmitted through airborne droplets or contaminated personal items.