The Federal Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, in collaboration with the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC) and the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), said 7,202 confirmed cases of diphtheria and 11, 587 suspected cases had been reported in 18 states, including the Federal Capital Territory, across 105 Local Government Areas (LGAs) as of September 24, 2023.
This was disclosed in a joint statement by the health bodies on Monday.
It said so far, a total of 453 deaths have occurred in confirmed cases giving a case fatality rate (CFR) of 6.3 per cent.
It said the bulk of the confirmed cases (6185) were recorded from Kano State.
Other states with confirmed cases of diphtheria are; Yobe (640), Katsina (213), Borno (95), Kaduna (16), Jigawa (14), Bauchi (8), Lagos (8), FCT (5), Gombe (5), Osun (3), Sokoto (3), Niger (2), Cross River (1), Enugu (1), Imo (1), Nasarawa (1) and Zamfara (1).
It said the majority of confirmed cases – 5,299 which is 73.6 per cent occurred among children aged 1 to 14 years with those aged 5 to 14 years bearing most of the brunt of the disease.
According to the statement, the Coordinating Minister of the Federal Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, Professor Muhammad Ali Pate, has established a national emergency task team co-chaired by the Executive Director of the NPHCDA and the Director General of the NCDC for higher-level coordination of outbreak response efforts in light of findings that 80% of confirmed cases in the ongoing outbreak are unvaccinated.
It noted that among the prominent members of the task force is the director of Public Health-FMOH, representatives from the Federal Ministry of Information, the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), USCDC, USAID, GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance, other non-governmental organisations and development partners.
It said, “Since the confirmation of an outbreak, the FMOH&SW through her agencies has been coordinating surveillance and response activities across the country. These include response coordination, surveillance, laboratory investigation, vaccination, case management, and risk communication activities.”
Diphtheria, caused by a toxin produced by the bacteria Corynebacterium, is a vaccine-preventable disease covered by one of the vaccines provided routinely through Nigeria’s childhood immunisation schedule.
The federal government stated that “The most effective protection against diphtheria is vaccination with the Pentavalent or TD vaccine.
“The Federal Government of Nigeria provides free, safe, and effective vaccines at all Primary Healthcare Centres nationwide. We invite the public to take advantage of the ongoing vaccination occurring in all states,” it urged.
Furthermore, the federal government urged all parents to ensure that their children have received the three doses of diphtheria antitoxin-containing pentavalent vaccination given as part of Nigeria’s childhood immunisation programme.
The FG also encouraged healthcare workers to keep a high index of suspicion for diphtheria and practise routine infection prevention and control precautions when caring for all patients.