FMOH Partners MDAs to curb ongoing Diphtheria outbreak

FMOH Partners MDAs to curb ongoing Diphtheria outbreak

The Federal Ministry of Health in collaboration with NPHCDA, NCDC, the states and partners, is mobilizing all the necessary resources to respond effectively to an outbreak of Diphtheria cases in 4 states of the country.

A comprehensive response plan has been activated to ensure early detection, containment of cases, as well as preventing further transmission through a multi-phased response strategy. Available real-time surveillance data is currently showing active diphtheria outbreaks in 25 LGAs in four (4) states, namely Bauchi, Katsina, Yobe and Kaduna.

Furthermore, 171 LGAs in 14 States are at high risk of further spread of the diphtheria outbreak. The 171 LGAs include all 144 LGAs in Kano, Katsina, FCT, Yobe, Kaduna and Bauchi states, twenty (20) contiguous LGAs in 6 neighboring states (Gombe, Jigawa, Borno, Nasarawa, Plateau & Zamfara); and seven (7) LGAs in Lagos and Osun states.

The partnership aimed for an intensified mass vaccination of the identified populations at risk to curb the ongoing diphtheria outbreak are in two (2) Phases. The immediate phase one response (5-days reactive catch-up campaign)is planned for the affected 25 LGAs in 4 states from 7th August 2023 and will target children less than 14 years of age. Children 6 weeks – 4 years would be administered pentavalent vaccine, while children more than 4 – 14 years would be administered Td vaccines during the campaign.

One hundred and seventy-one (171) LGAs in 14 States are being prioritized for full 3 rounds of catch-up campaign using Pentavalent vaccines (for children less than 4 years) and Td vaccines (for children 4 – 14 years). The 14 states for the phase 2 response are: Katsina, Kaduna, Kano, Yobe, FCT, Bauchi, Gombe, Jigawa, Borno, Nasarawa, Plateau, Zamfara, Lagos and Osun. The 3 rounds of the phase 2 response catch-up campaigns are tentatively scheduled for 21st August 2023 (1st Round), 18th September 2023 (2nd Round) and 16th October 2023 (3rd Round) respectively.

Diphtheria is a highly contagious vaccine-preventable disease caused by an exotoxin-producing bacteria Corynebacterium diphtheria, which spreads mainly by direct contact with an infected individual or exposure to airborne droplets. It is a deadly disease that can affect people of all ages, especially children who are unvaccinated against the disease.

This disease targets mostly the respiratory system of affected individuals and is characterized by signs & symptoms which include fever, cough, runny nose, sore throat, neck swelling and difficulty in breathing. These signs and symptoms, if left untreated, could eventually lead to death; and the risk of death is higher in partially vaccinated / unvaccinated children. Every individual (and their wards) with the above-mentioned signs and symptoms should please immediately report at the nearest hospital for urgent attention.

Dirty and crowded environment is also breeding ground for disease outbreaks. The risk of death is higher in children living in crowded areas with poor sanitary conditions. There is therefore an urgent need for us to ensure we always keep our environment clean.

Since diphtheria is a vaccine preventable disease, keeping up to date with recommended pentavalent vaccines before a child is one year old is the best protection against diphtheria. In Nigeria, pentavalent vaccine is given to children at age 6 weeks, 10 weeks and 14 weeks (and during campaigns as the need would arise) to prevent diphtheria.

Routine immunization performance in Jigawa state has been outstanding and most of the eligible children in the state are fully vaccinated due to the exceptional political commitment and leadership at the state and LGAs. This is shown by the fact that none of its LGAs is currently having active cases of diphtheria outbreak, compared to all its surrounding neighboring states that have several active cases. Other states are requested to take necessary actions to ensure their eligible children less than 14 years are fully vaccinated against diphtheria and other vaccines preventable diseases.

Parents and caregivers in the states for the planned campaigns are kindly requested to ensure that their eligible children and wards are fully vaccinated with the pentavalent or Td vaccines and other vaccines, appropriate to their age during the exercise. Parents and caregivers in the other states that are not involved in the planned campaigns are also requested to take their eligible children to the nearest health facility for their routine immunization vaccination.

In conclusion, the Ministry implores every one to join hands with the Government and the healthcare workers across the nation in this battle against Diphtheria. Stay informed, follow health guidelines, and ensure that you and your loved ones are vaccinated.

Engr. OlufunshoAdebiyi
Permanent Secretary