Diphtheria: Group to launch wide-scale health response in Kano, Yobe and Katsina
- Sulaiman Umar
- 30 Sep, 2023
A humanitarian group, Save the Children International (SCI) has said it was launching a wide-scale health response against diphtheria in the three most impacted states of Kano, Yobe, and Katsina.
It noted that its Emergency Health Unit was deploying expert health and supply chain staff to help over-stretched clinics to detect and treat diphtheria cases and to support mass vaccination campaigns across the worst-hit areas.
SCI in a statement issued Friday, September 29, by its Interim Country Director, Faton Krasniqi, said prior to the pandemic, Nigeria already had one of the lowest vaccination rates in the world, with efforts to strengthen routine immunization coverage and reduce under-five mortality having limited success.
Diphtheria is a vaccine-preventable disease that has largely been eradicated across the world, although periodic outbreaks happen in places where large groups of children have missed this routine vaccination, such as the disruptions to vaccinations caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, diphtheria is a highly contagious bacterial infection that can be fatal without treatment.
Nigeria recorded 7,202 cases of diphtheria and 430 deaths since the outbreak started in May 2022.
The statement said: “There have been 453 deaths confirmed since the outbreak started in May 2022, with most cases recorded in the past three months.
“The vast majority of the confirmed cases (6,185) were recorded in Kano, the second most populous state in Nigeria, located in the north of the country.
“Three in every four confirmed cases – or 73.6% of all cases – are of children under 14, with those aged between 5-14 years bearing the brunt of the disease.”
Krasniqi warned that a mass vaccination campaign will only be successful if the vaccine shortage is urgently dealt with.
He noted: “Severe shortages in Nigeria of the required vaccine and the antitoxin needed to treat the disease mean the situation could continue to escalate placing many children at risk of severe illness and death, said the child rights organisation.
“The entire humanitarian community is alert to the crisis here. We are coordinating closely together and working alongside the Nigerian Ministry of Health to ensure we reach everyone who needs treatment and to contain the spread of the disease.
“Diphtheria can be fatal in more than 10% of cases, but this can increase in places like overcrowded displacement camps or informal settlements in cities, where families have limited access to health services or where health facilities are overwhelmed.
“The response to this outbreak requires an urgent injection of funding and a large supply of vaccines to ensure we can contain it, and to save children’s lives.”
Culled from The Nation
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