Dr. Mohammed Nasir Mahmoud, Director General of the Kano State Primary Healthcare Management Board, announced on Tuesday that 520 children in the state were suspected to have died from a diphtheria outbreak in the state.
Dr. Mahmoud made the announcement during a media dialogue in Kano organised by the United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF, for journalists from the North-West states.
According to him, “there is data we generate through our disease surveillance and reporting system. And based on that report, this year, Kano has reported about 8,700 suspected cases of diphtheria, and about 6,000 have been confirmed. And about 520 children are suspected to have died from illness this year alone.
“We track this record on a daily basis. We believe the record is much more than what we are getting because the reporting system is not as it should be,” he stated.
Dr. Mahmoud, who noted that the state currently accounts for 80% of the outbreak, stated that efforts were being made by the government at all levels and critical stakeholders to reverse the ugly trend and meet the December target for combating and bringing the disease under control in the country.
Earlier in his remarks, Mr. Rahama Farah, UNICEF’s Kano Field Office Chief, stated that the disease had spread to 39 of the state’s 44 local government areas, with 8 urban LGAs being the hardest afflicted.
Farah, who expressed concern about the worrying scenario, stated that the epidemic is a threat to child survival, health, and well-being, emphasising the need for help and collaboration to combat the threat.
“Recently, we have seen a surge in the number of diphtheria cases reported in Nigeria, and Nigeria is currently facing an outbreak of diphtheria that needs to be stopped and prevented.
“So far, the highest number of cases of Diphtheria are reported from Kano state.
For example, out of the 44 LGAs in Kano State, the diphtheria disease has spread.
to 39 LGAs.
“Since Jan 2023 Kano state reported over 5,800 cumulative cases of Diphtheria in the state, Although, there was a decline in the reported case in June, however, as of July these Diphtheria case have been on the rise. As of last week, over 400 suspected cases with 11 deaths have been reported in Kano state.
“Eight LGAs are the most affected: They are Ungogo (2651), Dala (989), and Fagge.
(943), Gwale (714), Kumbotso (713), Nassarawa (538), Kano Municipal (506) and Tarauni (269).”
He stated that the fund had provided 1.2 million doses of vaccines to the Kano State government, among others, to aid in the response to the diphtheria outbreak.
“It is very important to understand that the analysis of the vaccination status of the suspected cases shows that 60.8% of all suspected cases are children who were not vaccinated.
“Last week, UNICEF delivered 1.2 million vaccines to the Kano State government.
in our continuing support of the government in response to the diphtheria outbreak.
“Since the first case of the diphtheria disease in December 2022, UNICEF has been working with the government and partners to respond to the emergency,” Farah said.
Dr. Serekeberehan S. Deres, UNICEF Health Manager, emphasised the importance of decentralising the treatment centre for persons from distant LGAs in order to ensure prompt response treatment and to stop the disease from spreading.
Dr. Deres also urged carers to have their children vaccinated because it is effective and can avoid an outbreak.