Six northern states account for 97% of all reported cases of Diptheria- NPHCDA
The National Primary Health Care Development Agency, (NPHCDA) said six states account for staggering 97 percent of all reported diphtheria cases in the country.
The agency’s director general, Dr Faisal Shuaib, who disclosed this on Tuesday, at the Diphtheria Outbreak Response Press Conference, in Abuja, named the states as Kano, Yobe, Katsina, Borno, Kaduna, and Bauchi, respectively.
Emphasizing that the six states were bearing the brunt of the disease in the country, Dr Shuaib said Kano alone carries the weight of over 84% of these cases, making it the epicenter of this outbreak.
While regretting that Diphtheria, a preventable disease, has cast a dark shadow over communities, particularly impacting children who he described as “our most vulnerable citizens”, Dr Shuaib said, in recent months, the agency has launched rapid and comprehensive vaccination campaigns across the affected regions.
“These campaigns have been meticulously planned and executed, with a laser focus on the epicenter of the outbreak.
“Kano, as the epicenter of this outbreak, has been at the forefront of our vaccination efforts. Working with the state governments, we implemented rounds 1 and 2 of the vaccination campaign in five high-burden local government areas in February and April 2023 respectively.
“Subsequently, round 3 was integrated with routine immunization intensification, further bolstering our response. An additional 8 LGAs in Kano underwent reactive vaccination exercises in the last week of August,”he explained.
Speaking further, he said “today, we stand united in the face of a public health challenge that demands our unwavering attention and swift action.
“Diphtheria, a preventable disease, has cast a dark shadow over our communities, particularly impacting our most vulnerable citizens, our beloved children.
” As we confront this crisis head-on, let me share with you the vital role of vaccination in our battle against this formidable foe.
“In this ongoing outbreak, you have heard that some states have been affected, with Kano, Yobe, Katsina, Borno, Kaduna, and Bauchi bearing the brunt, accounting for a staggering 97% of all reported cases. Kano alone carries the weight of over 84% of these cases, making it the epicenter of this outbreak.
“The burden falls disproportionately on our young, with over 73% of cases occurring in children aged 1 to 14 years. Alarmingly, only about 18% of those affected had received any vaccinations.
“As you may be aware, on the 19th of September 2023, the Honourable Coordinating Minister of the Federal Ministry of Health and Social Welfare (FMOH&SW), Prof Muhammad Ali Pate, set up a national emergency task team for higher level coordination of outbreak response efforts.
“This includes ensuring optimal collaboration of all relevant stakeholders such as political, religious and traditional leaders. He also requested that Governors of the affected states should promptly release counterpart funds to ensure availability of operational resources to compliment the Federal Government’s contributions.
“The cohesive response of the Federal Government, Subnational levels and Partners is a vibrant reflection of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s aspiration for Nigerians as eloquently captured in his renewed Hope agenda and his commitment to provide quality health care for all Nigerian irrespective of where they live, their ethnicity or religion. The Diphtheria outbreak response is an embodiment of this ethos.
“Vaccination has long been humanity’s armor against deadly diseases, and Diphtheria is no exception. The Federal Government recognizes the power of vaccines in safeguarding public health, and our response to this outbreak centers around the belief that vaccination is our most formidable weapon. We have two vaccines at our disposal: the Pentavalent vaccine, administered to children aged 6 weeks to 4 years, and the Tetanus-diphtheria (Td) vaccine, provided to children aged above 4 years to 14 years.”
According to him, “Beyond Kano, we expanded our response to include Kaduna, Katsina, Bauchi, and Yobe in our Phase One response. These states engaged, trained, and executed vaccination campaigns in 25 high-burden LGAs within their borders with the commencement of reactive vaccination in August 2023. Borno State also conducted reactive vaccination exercises in four LGAs during the same period.”
While saying it was crucial to note that routine vaccination continues daily at all government facilities across the nation, the NPHCDA boss explained that the “reactive vaccination exercises just serves as an additional layer of effort, a testament to the commitment of the Federal Government and our partners to curb the spread of this infection.”
He said:”For the Phase One response conducted in August, 2023, significant numbers were reached. In Kano State alone, 476,962 children received Td Vaccines, while 28,700 children received Penta vaccines. For other states, Katsina, had 313,615 children vaccinated with Penta vaccines and 421,045 with Td vaccines; Bauchi, vaccinated 162,840 children with Penta and 257,075 with Td vaccines; Kaduna, reached 174,857 children with Penta and 245,805 with Td vaccines. Yobe, vaccinated 82,601 children with Penta and 207,418 with Td vaccines. These figures do not include the daily routine vaccination efforts ongoing in these states.
“As of September 23rd, 2023, we commenced the Phase 2 Round 1 Diphtheria outbreak response in seven of the high-burden states. Yobe began on September 23rd, followed by Kano on September 30th. Bauchi, Borno, Jigawa, Kaduna, and Katsina are poised to commence on October 7th, 2023.
“Vacination is not merely about administering shots and needles; it is about building trust and fostering community engagement. We acknowledge that our vaccination success hinges on the active participation and trust of our communities. Our dedicated teams have been on the ground, tirelessly engaging communities, answering questions and addressing concerns.
” We have undertaken a comprehensive approach that includes disseminating public health advisories through media engagement and webinars, developing and distributing Diphtheria Social and Behaviour Change (SBC) materials, coordinating stakeholders’ meetings for risk communication and community engagement. Our tireless teams continue to conduct sensitization campaigns targeting health workers, opinion leaders, traditional and religious leaders, schools and community members. We are excited about the collaboration that the media has provided in order to increase awareness on the outbreak and encourage Nigerians to seek the protection of the vaccines.
“While we are firmly focused on controlling the Diphtheria outbreak, our vision extends beyond the immediate crisis. We are committed to strengthening our healthcare systems, ensuring the consistent availability of vaccines, and enhancing our capacity to respond to future outbreaks. The Federal Government continues to collaborate with Gavi, the vaccine alliance and our development partners as efforts are in full swing to expedite the procurement and delivery of more vaccines to combat this outbreak.”