Diphtheria outbreak in Nigeria: 453 deaths from 7,202 confirmed cases

Diphtheria outbreak in Nigeria: 453 deaths from 7,202 confirmed cases

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By Akinsuroju Olubunmi

Diphtheria outbreak in Nigeria: 453 deaths from 7,202 confirmed cases

Diphtheria outbreak in Nigeria: 453 deaths from 7,202 confirmed cases

Nigeria has witnessed a severe outbreak of diphtheria, with 453 reported deaths out of 7,202 confirmed cases since December 2022, according to the Federal Government’s recent statement. The Federal Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, in collaboration with key agencies, has been diligently addressing this alarming situation. As of September 24, 2023, there have been 11,587 suspected cases, of which 7,202 were confirmed, spanning across 105 Local Government Areas in 18 states plus the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).


The statement reveals that Kano recorded the highest number of confirmed cases, with 6,185 individuals affected. Other affected states include Yobe (640 cases), Katsina (213 cases), Borno (95 cases), Kaduna (16 cases), Jigawa (14 cases), Bauchi (8 cases), Lagos (8 cases), FCT (5 cases), Gombe (5 cases), Osun (3 cases), Sokoto (3 cases), Niger (2 cases), Cross River (1 case), Enugu (1 case), Imo (1 case), Nasarawa (1 case), and Zamfara (1 case).


Notably, a significant majority (73.6%) of confirmed cases occurred among children aged 1 – 14 years, with those aged 5-14 years being the most affected demographic group. The statement also reports a Case Fatality Rate (CFR) of 6.3 percent, highlighting the severity of the outbreak.


In response to the alarming findings that 80 percent of confirmed cases were unvaccinated, the Coordinating Minister of the Federal Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, Professor Muhammad Ali Pate, has established a National Emergency Task Team. This task force, co-chaired by the Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) and the Director General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), aims to enhance the coordination of outbreak response efforts.


The task force includes key stakeholders from various organizations, including the Federal Ministry of Information, the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), USCDC, USAID, GAVI, and several non-governmental organizations and development partners.


Since the confirmation of the outbreak, the Federal Ministry of Health, along with its agencies, has been actively coordinating a range of activities to contain the spread. This includes response coordination, surveillance, laboratory investigations, vaccinations, case management, and risk communication efforts.


It is important to note that diphtheria is a vaccine-preventable disease, and Nigeria routinely provides vaccinations against it through the childhood immunization schedule. This outbreak underscores the critical importance of maintaining high vaccination coverage to protect vulnerable populations

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