UNICEF tags Kano diphtheria epicentre in Nigeria
…Records 11 deaths, 5800 cases since January
By Faith Awa Maji, Katsina
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has warned that Nigeria is on the verge of diphtheria crisis management with a surge in number of reported cases in Kano State.
According to UNICEF, the disease has spread to 39 Local Government Areas out of the 44 Local Government Areas in the State with a total of 11 deaths out of 5800 cases since January 2023.
Chief of UNICEF Field Office in Kano, Mr. Rahama Mohammed Farah, gave the figures at a media briefing, Tuesday on a one-day media orientation on the diphtheria outbreak in Kano State.
The Federal Ministry of Information and Culture under the Child Rights Information Bureau (CRIB) organized the programme in collaboration with UNICEF.
Farah noted that UNICEF has been in the forefront of the fight against the diphtheria disease and other preventable childhood diseases, promoting social behaviour change, systemic health system strengthening and routine immunization.
He listed eight worst hit Local Government Areas and the corresponding number of suspected cases in Kano as, Ungogo (265l), Dala (989), Fagge (943), Gwale (714), Kumbotso (713), Nassarawa (538), Kano Municipal (506) and Tarauni (269).
Reports, according to him, indicated that most of the affected children did not receive a single dose of vaccination against children killer diseases including diphtheria.
“A situation where children do not receive a single dose of vaccination is totally unacceptable and urgently needs to be addressed,” Farah said, adding that, “it is very important to understand that analysis of the vaccination status of the suspected cases shows that 60.8 per cent of all suspected cases are children who were not vaccinated.
“This clear evidence re-enforces the critical need to address the issue of zero-dose children in Nigeria in general and in Kano State in particular.
“The current diphtheria outbreak is a threat to child survival, health and the well-being of children.
“UNICEF has been and will continue to support the diphtheria response in Nigeria, focusing on providing technical and financial support to the government in all affected States including Kano State to implement the diphtheria outbreak response.
“Diphtheria is a highly contagious, infectious disease that can cause death.
“The outbreak needs to be urgently stopped, controlled and prevented from spreading.
“Last week, UNICEF delivered 1.2 million vaccines to the Kano State government, in our continuing support to the government for response to the diphtheria outbreak,” Farah said.
On his part, Kano State Director General, State Primary Health Care Management Board, Dr. Muhammed Nasir, said government was worried due to the surge in diphtheria disease and other childhood killer diseases.
“We will address it by using strong political commitment which is extremely important and government will ensure full compliance of 0-5 children are immunized,” he said.
Participants at the programme were drawn from Kano, Kaduna, Katsina, Jigawa and Sokoto States.