Diphtheria: Yobe records 117 deaths, 1,796 suspected cases

The National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA), on Monday, confirmed that 117 children died following the diphtheria outbreak in Yobe since 2022.

The agency, however, said that 1,600 children had recovered from the disease within the period under review.

Dr Faisal Shuaib, the Executive-Director of the Agency, stated this during an inspection visit to the diphtheria isolation centre in Potiskum, the epicentre of the disease in the state.

He said that 1,796 cases of the disease had been reported in Yobe since November 22, adding that the disease was more prevalent among children age five to 14 years.

Shuaib, who led the Diphtheria Emergency Task Team to the state, expressed satisfaction with diphtheria vaccination conducted in Potiskum and 17 other local government areas of the state.

“By October 12, more vulnerable kids will be provided with vaccines to curtail the disease. Vaccines are powerful, they are safe and they work.

“Diphtheria is a disease of ancient times; with vaccination, deaths are preventable,” he said.

He noted that low vaccination rates were responsible for the recent outbreak of the disease across the country.

“In 2016 and 2017; MICS NICS survey, an independent survey of National Bureau of Statistics, indicated that only 33 per cent of Nigerians were covered by vaccinations.

“Due to concerted efforts by the Federal Government and development partners, the figure rose to 70 per cent in 2019.

“But the outbreak of COVID-19 which prevented many people from taking their children for vaccination due to lockdown and fear of contracting COVID-19, there was a deep in coverage down to 57 per cent,” he said.

Shuaib said that improvement in environmental and personal hygiene would eliminate the disease in spite of Yobe being second only to Kano State in cases of diphtheria across the country.

The NPHCDA boss commended the Yobe government and development partners for their roles in tackling diphtheria and pledged continued support to enable the state to improve healthcare service delivery.

He stressed the need for an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) for effective monitoring, referral and management of diphtheria cases.

(Daily Post)

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