The surge of diphtheria cases spreading across 14 states has prompted the Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Professor Muhammad Ali Pate, to establish an Emergency Task Force dedicated to halting the epidemic’s advancement within the country.
Diphtheria, an extremely contagious illness transmitted through airborne droplets or contaminated personal items, has now emerged in 15 states, with Kano identified as the epicentre.
Co-chaired by Dr. Faisal Shuaib, the Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), and Dr. Ifedayo Adetifa, the Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), the task force is mobilizing for rapid, emergency measures to prevent the disease’s further spread to additional states and to provide essential relief to affected communities.
This dedicated task force includes key members such as Dr. Anyaike Chukwuma, Director of Public Health in the Federal Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, along with representatives from crucial organisations including the World Health Organisation (WHO), the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), the Federal Ministry of Information, and the Northern Traditional Leaders Committee on Primary Healthcare Delivery (NTLC).
Minister Pate stressed the urgency of conducting extensive mobilisation and awareness campaigns, particularly as children are returning to school. He commended Dr. Shuaib for postponing his participation in the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) to lead the rapid response team to Kano, the outbreak’s epicentre.
The 14 states claimed to grapple with this outbreak encompass Lagos, Osun, the Federal Capital Territory, Nasarawa, Kaduna, Katsina, Yobe, Bauchi, Gombe, Borno, Zamfara, Jigawa, Plateau, and Kano. Although, Ireport247 gathered no physical evidence of the outbreak in some of the locations: e.g Lagos has no red alert.
Furthermore, the task force will actively collaborate with the governors of these states to secure necessary counterpart funding, mutual responsibility, and comprehensive community mobilisation.
In a substantial show of support, UNICEF has procured 1.2 million vials of the Td vaccine to aid the federal government’s response to the outbreak. Dr. Rownak Khan, UNICEF’s representative, reiterated the organisation’s unwavering commitment to assisting the government in effectively addressing the diphtheria outbreak, with a primary goal of safeguarding the health and future of every child in Nigeria.